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Community + Connection

Chances are, if you follow Reclaiming Hope, you care about mental health - hopefully your own, and that of the people around you. But what do you do when you care deeply, and aren't sure how to help in a hands-on way? We live in a digital age that has resulted in many people feeling isolated and alone, despite the way the internet and social media were supposed to make it easier to stay connected. At RH, we strongly believe in the power of personal connection. It is an integral part of mental health, and technology will never be a satisfactory substitute.

So what are some practical steps toward connecting within our communities?  Here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Get to know your neighbors. Start with the people in closest physical proximity to you. Make some cookies, introduce yourself to newcomers, plan a block party, or just invite someone over for a cup of coffee. To know that a warm, kindhearted person lives nearby could open the door to future interactions, and your neighbors will know they have someone to reach out to if ever the need arises.

2. Are you involved with a church?  See what they're doing to reach the people in your local community and find a way to be a part of it. Even serving at your church will give you the opportunity to connect with people locally. 

3. Are you a parent? Odds are your child's school could always use another set of hands. Tutoring, leading a reading group, playground duty, PTA - there are countless ways to lighten the load of the faculty and staff that are likely stretched thin as they care for our kiddos.

4. Volunteer. There are typically a host of non-profit organizations that are in need of help. It may be manning the phones, filing paperwork, shoveling snow, serving a meal. Opportunities abound in so many areas that may strike a chord with you. Maybe it's homelessness, family violence, poverty, substance abuse, suicide prevention - we all have causes that matter to us, things that grieve our hearts. Find organizations that are serving people in those populations and see what kind of help they need.

5. Training. This could be the next step if you're already volunteering. Perhaps it's learning how to be a peer counselor, or a crisis responder. Maybe it's learning to answer the phone for an abuse hotline, leading a support group, or becoming a mental health coach. Reach out to the public health department in your area to see what training may be available for citizens who want to help care for the people in their community. Oftentimes they have grant money set aside for this very thing.

6. Look up. When you go to the grocery store, skip the self check-out and speak with the clerk. When you pick up a pizza, look that teenager in the eye and ask how they're doing. Make conversation with people. Be the highlight of someone's day. Oftentimes we're looking for a role to play, a position to fill, but what's really needed is to walk through each day with alertness, watching for who may need a kind word or a listening ear. Sometimes the best way to serve our community is by meeting the needs of those who cross our paths in the ordinary day-to-day of our lives. Pray each day for God to reveal who could benefit from a little extra time and attention from you. It's a beautiful way to be His hands and His feet right where we are!

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