November 22, 2012 —
Recent events, including hurricanes in the Northeast along with other disasters both near and far, have led me to explore what the needs in our community are and how we deal with them. The search led to exploration identifying who comprises our community. In my eyes, our community comprises all people who live in Honesdale, towns nearby, or are traveling through. That’s a pretty large community. Identifying needs can be more complex, as we tend to first confuse a want with a need and then question the validity of a need that may differ from our own. Through this journey, I came to reaffirm for myself that I love Honesdale, the people in it and the people that pass through, and I take to heart all our needs.
Feeding the needs of a community requires one to step back and to look around impartially. This essay’s title line, “Feeding the needs of our community,” may lead to visions of an absent meal, but our needs are much greater than simply food. There’s the need for fellowship, friendship and the bonds that grow from respect and trust. There’s the need of understanding that family doesn’t have to stem from a blood relation, but that we are all brothers and sisters in God’s world. There’s the need of acceptance and feeling welcome at any time, and the need to stumble, err and be forgiven. We weren’t put on this floating blue ball to be solitary. God intended for us to reach out to one another, as scary as that may be at times, and to love one another. Feeding needs requires removal of the word “I” and emphasis on “you,” “he,” “she” and “they,” and opening our eyes to see things from another viewpoint.
I’m thrilled to see on a daily basis how the Honesdale community cares for its brothers and sisters. We offer many places for spiritual growth. We encourage community activities and we actually stop when someone is in the crosswalk to allow them safe passage across the street. When a family is in need, you’ll readily see a fund drive appear and the community gather to give, and it’s not only the monetary donation that matters. It’s the phone calls, cards and prayers that really count at times when we wonder what’s going on in our lives. There is no better place to live in a community spirit.
We are blessed in that free Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day dinners are available to everyone, with turkey and all the trimmings. Thanksgiving Together is a non-profit group working together with Grace Episcopal Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church to organize these meals, supported by the generosity of our local businesses and individuals through donations of their time, talents and treasures. Thanks to all of these efforts, we have been able to succeed in this event for many decades. The free meal is served at noon and all are welcome. In addition, throughout the year a hot meal and warm companionship can be found every Saturday, with lunch served from 11:30 a.m. to 12 also at no charge, at either of these churches.
In current times, with many people not working and with natural and manmade disasters leaving people homeless or without the ability to provide for themselves, it’s time for each of us to put aside our own needs and look to what our neighbor needs. God didn’t put us together for us not to be together. God put us here to love one another as He loves us. My holiday wish for everyone is to love one another, care for one another and tend to the needs of others, whatever they may be.
[Laura Brownell is the administrator of the Thanksgiving Together Food Program, a non-profit organization serving hot meals not only at Thanksgiving, but also every Saturday throughout the year at Grace Episcopal Church and St. John’s Lutheran Church in Honesdale, PA.]