Last September, thirteen people gathered at St. James Anglican Church to hear a story. It was about a small community, Vashon Island, off the coast of Seattle and the story Bruce Anderson told was heartwarming and thought provoking.
A few people on the island began to meet and talk about how to make their community more welcoming for everyone. So many things happened; you can google “Welcome Vashon” for the inspiring results.
After Bruce left, a few of us began to meet and talk about welcoming in St. Marys. Some people felt our town was very welcoming but pretty quickly stories were shared about people who were lonely, isolated, and feeling like they didn’t belong. What could our small group possibly do? We made a plan! Each of us would reach out to two of the most welcoming people we knew, spend an hour with them over coffee and ask them their thoughts, ideas, experiences with welcoming. What an amazing experience that was! We learned a lot and decided to get them in the same room to chat over lunch. Again people told stories about when they were welcomed in our community and who might benefit from having this welcoming experience.
This is an excerpt from one of the follow up emails we received after that lunch. “This is about developing and facilitating caring people who can help to meet the needs of people in their communities. It has to be contagious! Each of us has a sphere of influence, albeit in our workplace, on our street, or in whatever opportunities are within our grasp. It is about encouraging each other to be aware of and sensitive to the needs of others right in front of us. We can touch those we are in contact with wherever we are. As we attend to those around us, needs become visible. The venues and creativity are limitless! The willingness and sensitivity of caring community members can make a difference to a lonely and hurting population, wherever they are. It will take all ages and stages, all people groups, and all avenues of life. It is about valuing each person in a community. It is one person at a time, or through small groups connecting.”
And here we are! Planning our next get together and hoping to have many people join us. On Wednesday, May 1st at 6:45 we will meet in the United Church Auditorium. Two women from North Perth will share a story about making their community a more welcoming place. Then we will have some conversation, share some ideas and make a “welcoming” plan!