I am a Kiwanian. An international service organization, Kiwanis strives to care for the world’s children, one child at a time, one community at a time. My membership is to be expected. I was a Jaycee Woman, a Jaycee, and always a community service minded kid. What I find difficult to deal with at the moment is the loss of membership in these organizations.
Across the board, organizations like the Jaycees and Kiwanis (and all the animal clubs and other service organizations) have been losing membership. This is happening, even in the face of a growing population on the planet ~ and at a time when men AND women are welcome to be members.
I don’t think there are fewer people donating their time and efforts. In my community, people are involved in service around me every day ~ and almost every waking hour. Their interests are many and varied. And therein, I suspect, lies the problem.
Individual and personal service does not require partnership nor association. I can go to the Food Bank or the Salvation Army and spend time, with or without another going with me. I can make a financial contribution. Personally, I find that kind of participation a little less rewarding. I love the social aspects of belonging to an organization.
Belonging ~ there. I said it. I love belonging. Blame my childhood and a home with ten people in a neighborhood with almost one hundred children. The joy of sharing my glee and dividing my sorrows is unsurpassed by any solitude or individual satisfaction I get from service, work, or almost everything else I do.
Which gets me wondering ~ do our children have a sense of belonging? They compete in sports, for spots in the first chair of the band, for the top scores in their video games. They fight to win. But do they belong? For that matter, do we as adults belong? Do we know that our presence matters ~ that we make a difference?
I am taking on a mission this week. In honor of Holy Week, and a time when our differences may seem more accented than at other times, I will be including people. There are people to whom I nod at Starbucks; I don’t know their name. This week, I will make an effort to have them belong. When I pass kids in the store or on the street, I will make eye contact. I will say hello. I will work to be a community of people who have the experience of belonging.
And if those folks experience belonging, perhaps they will pass sit on. Maybe they can include others. Could be that they will help another to feel like belonging. And if we belong, we will, most likely, not feel isolated. We will not be separate. We will not have depressing feelings or thoughts. We will not do harm to ourselves or to others.
I guess, if we can do that, we can impact one child, one community at a time.