Community is defined as a social unit consisting of a group of people living in the same place or having a particular commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs and/or identity. The true meaning of community is a little more layered though. In a ranking of the important elements of community, shared geographical location and ideals might seem like top contenders due to its (community) frequent application in discussions about different societies but, community is always first and foremost about the people. To me, it is a supportive network. It should be a safe space rendered so because of the impact the individuals it comprises of make with their actions.
When I first moved to Lethbridge a few years ago, I was overwhelmed and anxious about being on my own for the first time in my life. Fortunately, I was welcomed with open arms. At almost every turn, I came across people who were always willing to lend a helping hand and assist me in whatever way I needed. I was a wide-eyed first year university student fresh out of high school from an entirely different continent who, if left to my own devices when it came to navigating this new terrain, would have made countless and more dire mistakes than I did.
Imagine that you are a business owner who is just getting set up in a new store front. You are working hard to pack in boxes of retail stock, furniture and office supplies and its hard work! Halfway through your day, a friendly passerby offers to assist you. While you do not want to impose on their time and energy, you gratefully accept the offer because this is taking longer than you anticipated and you have not been able to take a break. With their help you are able to unload the rest of the boxes. The friendly passerby smiles at you and wishes you best of luck in your new endeavor and then they are on their way.
How do you feel right now? A complete stranger took time out of their day to help you and asked for nothing in return. Grateful? Thankful? Valued? Excited? What a wonderful way to be welcomed to the community. These feelings of gratitude will persist as you interact with other local stores and the people who enter your store and your smile and inviting warmth will be contagious to those around you , which in turn will increase your likelihood of success, which will benefit the community as a whole.
Being embraced by your community reminds you that you are not alone. In my case, the immeasurable kindness shown to me made me feel like I was part of something greater. Thus, I was inspired to continue this chain of kindness that I was certain did not begin with me. Our actions, however big or small, affect those around us. We should always strive to show acts of kindness to people in our community, so everyone benefits. We should remember that our community is about us the people and the community thrives when the people thrive.
Resource Development Manager