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We are all neighbors.

We should learn to live and love our neighbors as ourselves for the sake of peace and progress.
David McCallum

I believe the idea that one individual, with determination, dedication, and great passion can change the lives of many.

Yeah, I said it. Call me a sucker, but it’s what I truly believe. I have seen it with my own eyes. I know people in neighborhoods around the world do this every day. They do it daily with very few resources and a huge odds stacked against them. Success for these warriors is not always measurable but the results are widespread and encouraging. They are lowering teen pregnancy rates, building a broader economic base, educating young girls and creating work programs that create higher employment rates. All of these signs indicate that this work makes a difference.

The residents of these communities be they in Nairobi or Little Rock work hard to seize control of their lives and make smart decisions that help them overcome the many barriers that they face. They remind me of why I do the work I do – sitting behind a desk…staring at a screen ..writing yet another report. Sigh.

These citizen warriors, of tough neighborhoods are often portrayed in the media as apathetic bystanders as weak or powerless. However, in many communities, angry citizens who were once polarized by fear have discovered a new tool to take back their lives. They claim ownership of their community including its problems . They do all of this really hard work for one reason.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Yeah they decided to follow the golden rule, the only rule that really matters and love their neighbors. Love as a verb. Love as movement. Love as action. Love as an event.

Neighbors do help neighbors. Every day, they use their time and their gifts to keep their friends and families going. Many, especially those living in tough communities, work hard to deal with the challenges. In the face of these obstacles, community residents look for the connections to vital resources that would improve their odds of succeeding.

This country was built on the premise of neighbors helping neighbors. They would gather and work together to build a house or help clear a field , often in a single day. Neighbors lent a hand when they became aware of neighbors they could help. Nobody expected pay. No one knew if they would be helped when they needed it. They took responsibility for one another. More than crops were planted in the process.

Community spirit was built.

Love in action. Today, grandmas are taking care of and feeding children who are not related by blood, watching neighborhood children as they play. There are young men shoveling snow and coaching softball and building community gardens . The term for stepping in to take care of others is neighboring.

Neighbors as movement. Neighbors as action. Neighbors as an event.

And it’s my favorite kind of volunteering in the world.

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