On Thursday, October 5th Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House had the opportunity to sit in on a round table with a group of people at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House and listen to them tell their stories. One of the ladies in this group had made breakfast and I thought how appropriate the sharing of food was for a momemt like this. Food brings people together and it was during this breakfast that I realized this was a tight knit group of people who relied on these meetings.
As I listened to their stories, which ranged from the difficulties of navigating our social systems, to housing, triumphs through adversity, to nostalgic memories of the past, I realized something. The ability to have a space to tell stories, to share a snapshot in time of a moment in their lives was like the need for air. I learned that Engaging Abundant Community was more than just storytelling. It was about the vital need for human connection, a fundamental human need no matter the age, race, creed, socioeconomic status, gender or sexual orientation.
I know how detrimental to our health — mental, intellectual, physical and spiritual — isolation can be. What the program Engaging Abundant Community does is create healthy, strong and connected communities. These conversations encourage the people who take part in them to share their stories of adversity and wellness but it also educates and offers support, mental health training and resources, other imortant community resources and of course, friendship.
I felt honored and humbled to be a part of the program. I felt such gratitude that I was able to listen to their words and hear the passion and hope in their voices. This group of people let us in and I was amazed at their courage, openess and honesty. It made a definite impact on me and it was a true gift.