Moses called me this morning from Nairobi, Africa. He’s working tirelessly to support women and girls in his community. His primary focus right now is to ensure all women have access to sanitary napkins. He’ll take the monetary donations and even the donated napkins, but his real interest has to do with sustainability. He wants help securing 6 sewing machines so they can produce the sanitary napkins in the community and create employment. You know the life lesson:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”
He’s calling me because he needs 6 sewing machines? We can do that. Can’t we? I told him that we can help without giving any thought of how it will actually be done. I just believe it. There’s 60,000 people in our community and from my experience, most of those individuals want to help others and get involved. It’s simply about connecting the need with the right person and finding out how they can contribute in their own unique way.
Resources Unite strengthens communities by creating connections. We help connect people to opportunities and resources that lead to a happier and more engaged way of life. That’s our mission statement, but what does that really mean?
I’ve worked in organizations that focus on strengthening communities throughout my entire career. Whether I was working at Riverview Center supporting survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, working at the Florence Crittenton Center in Los Angeles counseling at risk youth, or volunteering my time supporting the homeless of Skid Row, one factor remained constant when trying to measure the success of our mission. It ALWAYS came back to community engagement. The better we connected our work with the community and provided opportunities for them to get engaged, the most successful we were with preventing violence, mentoring, and securing sustainable housing.
You cannot strengthen a community without the community being involved. It’s impossible. And the beauty of a completely engaged community is not just about the betterment of the community. It’s also about the betterment of the individual. I think you really do realize a happier life knowing that you are helping others and contributing to the greater good.
Back to Moses. He sees our community in Dubuque Iowa as one that is connected; a community that potentially could secure 6 sewing machines. He wants the same for Nairobi. I don’t think we’ve realized our fullest potential. Not even close. I’m sitting here at One Mean Bean, writing this post, listening to the conversations going on around me. The table to the right of me is talking about the gospel. (sounds like a Bible study group) The guy across from me is on his laptop, wearing headphones, surfing the internet. Three young women just walked in from Loras College.
I don’t know any of them. I don’t even know the guy behind the counter. But I bet each of them would support Moses in some way. Maybe the Bible study group would go back to their church and make as ask to their congregation. I bet the young women from Loras could find 10 more friends that would all kick in 5 bucks to buy a sewing machine. Who knows? Maybe the guy on his laptop would be willing to share the need to his social network.
I dream about connecting our community. I really do. I dream about creating a network that allows people to get involved in the most meaningful ways and for individuals and organizations to have their needs met overnight. I believe we have that potential. I think anything can be realized….at the very least, 6 sewing machines.