I’m a Believer
I have felt the power of community in so many ways throughout my life. The feeling of belonging, of working together, of conquering, of changing things. That people are meant to be with one another, that we share our lives through family, friends, our towns, our nations, our world. We interact on so many levels throughout our lives and that has expanded in recent years. The internet has connected us for better or worse with the planet. We are a part of numerous communities throughout our lives. These communities are always in flux, growing, shrinking, adjusting goals.
As a child, our communities were small, family & neighbors. They nurtured us, taught us how to socialize with others, gave us the tools to go out into the world and be a part of the community. School brought us into new communities with a shared interest. We had sports, music, drama that we could share. We learned to work together to accomplish goals and grow friendships. In the adult world, we grew our communities through work and volunteering, through politics and hobbies. Always working with others to achieve what we could not do alone.
This last year we learned a lot about our communities as everything came to a standstill. My first lesson was that in a crisis of toilet paper hoarding social media was my best friend. A plea to the community for tips on where to purchase the rare item was immediately answered and often with a roll of TP on the steps of my home. I was serenaded by a friend who rode a bike around town to stop at people's homes, stand in the yard, and sing them a song. Such a wonderful gift when we were housebound. I received bread and treats, flowers, and canned goods. People pulling together to let you know we are still here, we still care, we are still community even if we are social distancing.
We were muddling through the financial hardships of no work. The government, our largest community, was there with assistance. This allowed us to pay rent and stay afloat. We had purchased a van for our business to replace the old one with 426,000 miles on it. A few months in we decided to sell it and pay off the loan to ease the stress on our savings. We would look for another when we got back to work. I was able to draw unemployment for a few months.
In November of last year, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Unable to work during surgery and recovery I could no longer draw unemployment benefits. We were making trips an hour and a half long to get to medical care in a van with 426,000 miles. We had been warned by our repairman that it was iffy. It was at this time a friend stepped in and started a go fund me to help us out. He put out a call to raise $20,000. This was to be used for medical care, bills, and get us a safe vehicle.
I cannot tell you what this meant. How humbling when people from across the nation chipped in to take care of us. My husband and I have performed music for over 40 years and our music community came through in a way we could never have imagined. It was just in time since in January I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have been in treatment for it since then. The vehicle we drive to my radiation treatments was paid for by our community, the gas we use was paid for by our community, the health insurance premiums were paid for by our community. I cannot write this without breaking into tears. It has been my greatest lesson in life.
It is much easier to give than to receive. Joe and I are humbled by such a show of love and support. To feel the arms of community wrapped around you to take care of you when you cannot do it yourself. It has given me much hope for our future. That we can overcome differences and make this world a better place. I hope someday no one in this nation will have to resort to a go fund me to meet medical needs. That we as a nation can gather our communal will and empathy to make lasting change to improve the lives of all citizens. That this shared responsibility to each other can move outside our family, town, and country to embrace the world. We just need to expand our community, make room for each other, make room for real change. I know this can happen. I have felt the power of community. I am a believer.
© Vicki Price 2021