Why Community Matters

Why Community Matters Blog Image

I’ve been scrolling through our Facebook page trying to get inspired to write something new about why community matters. It’s spring 2020, and we’re all practicing social distancing to try to stem the tide of COVID-19. Here at LBSA, we limited visits and trips into the community for the people we support beginning on March 13. Six weeks ago. We’ve postponed our Flannel Gala to September, our Employee Appreciation dinner (date to be determined) and we’re in discussion about how we have our December Gala. Personally, I haven’t seen my son and his brand-new wife since their wedding in late February. I miss my people. We all miss our people.

Community Integration

My Facebook scrolling revealed lots of pictures of people enjoying one another’s company. In close proximity – hugging or grouping together, with real smiles, that reach people’s eyes. The pictures reveal what I – we – talk about all the time: community is very important at LBSA. And it’s not just lip service to “community integration” – encouraging and providing opportunities for our clients to dip their toes in the community by shopping downtown, using a local doctor or taking a walk in the neighborhood. Those are necessary components to community integration. And they can’t be the place we stop. The next step is building meaningful relationships with each other. Supporting one another.

What I see in the photos are people enjoying each other’s company. Regardless of their abilities. The pictures speak of inviting people into the LBSA community, and of the community inviting the LBSA community into their orbits.

If we’re not diligent, the isolation of COVID-19 could threaten the progress that we have made. For some of the people we support, isolation is preferable. We have to remind and encourage them to find their place in community. For others, isolation can feed existing mental health challenges and create instability. Some people need and want regular interaction with their families and friends. We’re doing what we can to support community involvement: Zoom calls, Facebook chats, phone calls. It’s not the same as a steady stream of activities: going to the Y, art workshops, music sessions, hanging out with friends. You know what I’m talking about.

Hear Our Stories

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the KYMN Radio series Why Community Matters, we encourage you to take a listen now. We’re grateful for Teri Knight and Jeff Johnson’s willingness to partner with us. We need you all to hear and understand our stories and our needs, especially now. Scroll through our Facebook pictures and see the joy in ALL the faces.

Take a Listen

Joy and Connection

We’re grateful to the many people who have found a way to stay engaged: the mask sewers, the hand sanitizer makers, the donors, our families, our neighbors, the chalk drawing artists and our amazing staff members, who keep showing up to work and doing the intimate caregiving that is necessary to support our clients.

Community matters because it brings us joy and connection. It reminds us that our work and our people matter. It reminds us that we can’t be who we are without the rest of the community.

In these times of physical separation, we encourage you to find a way to remain connected with us.

Maintaining our community matters … now more than ever.

About the Author

Sandi Gerdes

Sandi Gerdes, executive director of Laura Baker Services Association, has a 30-year history of leadership in the disabilities community. A longtime advocate for choice, Sandi has developed numerous innovative service programs tailored to the unique needs of the individuals the organization serves.

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