Occasionally my phone rings and it’s Jack, who lives in Connecticut. His mom lives on my dirt road out in the country and he’s hoping I’ll make sure her steps are safe from ice, power is on, and driveway is clear of trees—whatever conditions might call for. I’m always glad to take his
call. My folks live in Massachusetts, and I know the stress of being far from aging parents when they might need assistance. It’s not all give either. I’ve always been handy, and I get a real sense of purpose making sure those around me are safe during a storm, heat wave or cold snap.
This past weekend was a bitter cold spell, and like countless other Vermonters staffing warming shelters, working in our health care and other essential facilities, fixing frozen pipes and clearing the way for emergency fuel deliveries, I offered a helping hand where I could. Frankly, there’s nothing really special about this; it’s what Vermonters do. What is special about it is the impact we can have when we all work together.
I didn’t grow up here, but I’ve been here in Vermont all of my adult life and I’ve learned that this is just the way things are. There’s little anonymity in our state the size of some small cities, and that creates a sense of community not found in many places. It’s not cliché or even aspirational; it just is the way it is. There’s less time to prioritize self-interest when the state and people you love are counting on you to put their needs high on that priority list too. Of all the things I love about Vermont, this sense of community is right up there with watching my kids play sports, deer hunting and advocating for our non-profit hospitals. I know what you’re thinking: this guy just put his job on a list of things he loves. What’s up with that? Yes, I did. I told you; I like to have a sense of purpose and there’s no shortage of that in health care, especially for those on the frontlines of care delivery.
Reading the headlines in Vermont this week, it’s easy to think we’ve lost our sense of
community, but that is far from the truth. It was all around me this weekend. It’s all around us all the time. We just have to look harder to find it sometimes.
These are really hard times for many, and we know stress, frustration and grief can bring out the absolute worst in people. The remedy for all of this pain is the love of community. I am grateful for my many communities and all they give to me and my family, and in turn, I do my best to give back when I can. Who are your communities? How do you give to them? Can you give a little more to fill the void for others who are struggling?
Thanks for listening. Have a great week.