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Tips For Becoming Part of a Caring Community
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, July 2010

Do you ever wonder what it must have been like in the days when people lived within a "Caring Community?" You know, where neighbors knew each other, encouraged intergenerational visiting, really meant it when they asked "How are you?" and paid attention to the subtle and not so subtle changes that occurred in each other's lives?

Some of us are fortunate enough to live in communities (or buildings) where we have this feeling. If you don't, however, there are many ways to create or become part of a caring community.

There needs to be a conscious effort to connect. If you already belong to an organization such as a church, synagogue, temple, or recreational center, you can certainly make an effort to, at the very least, learn people's names and acknowledge when they have good and difficult things happening in their lives. Having a group of people who visit when someone is ill; prepare meals for the family of someone who has recently died or is ill; look in on an elderly person who has no family nearby, offer to walk with them in the neighborhood, sit for a cup of tea, and get to know them; engage a young person to visit and / or help around the house or yard, or just to engage in conversation are ways to break the wall that so many of us have around us.

Here are more tips to help you:

Meet Your Neighbors - Introduce yourself to your neighbors and without judgment, be open to whatever they share about their lives.

Seek Out Members of Your Community - If you see someone in your neighborhood whom you have seen before, introduce yourself and let them know that you, too, live nearby.

Spend Time Together - Invite a neighbor for a cup of coffee, a walk, a chance to listen to some lovely piece of music, to garden together. Whatever it is, something that helps to give a base for more than "hello."

Reach Out to Isolated Neighbors - Ask someone who lives alone if they would like to walk or join you for a movie or a concert or something in the neighborhood.

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