Our mission is simple: unite people facing homelessness with loving, supportive communities they can call home. How do you do that in a time when we are expected to isolate ourselves? How do we connect someone living in a car to a job, a stable environment to live in, and a supportive community when people are losing jobs? Our environment is deeply unstable and resources are scarce.
These questions bring me back to how we, Friendship House, define community.
First, a community is wherever you call home. For many, home right now is your physical space, and those isolated in that space with you. For others, their home is our empowerment center – opened for sparse hours at a time to ensure our friends know they can come home. Maybe, though, home has expanded to be your neighborhood streets – still a space you may be confined to, but a space you may not have seen as often as you do now.
Community is how we respond to each other. I have seen hundreds of social media posts where people are offering to buy groceries or deliver medicines for people unable to get out. Others are supporting nonprofits and small businesses. I have seen and felt countless gestures of love and have witnessed support and acceptance.
Community is also uniting. It’s coming together as a collective to do the right thing for each other and for the larger group. Friendship House has been involved with the uniting of organizations of various types, coming together to protect and serve each other, including ensuring something as simple as access to public bathrooms for our most vulnerable, homeless population. Our community has grown to include the world as we unite on a common front battling such a horrendous and scary virus, sharing what works and what does not.
This pandemic is teaching us our community is the collective human race – from China, to Italy, to the United States, we are a united, loving, supportive front that will learn, adjust, and respond so the needs of the community are met. And we do this because we love. We love each other, we love our planet, and we love God. Together, that love is greater than anything else we can imagine. That is community.