I like to think of community as a combination of two words – “common” and “unity.” These two words define what community is: people uniting over a common purpose or trait. I find it incredible that people, with all their differences, can empathize and find commonalities with each other.
Communities are important for many reasons.
Social connections are important for our evolution. According to this article from The Atlantic, “Social pain signals that we are all alone—that we are vulnerable—and need to either form new connections or rekindle old ones to protect ourselves against the many threats that are out there.” Being a part of a community could protect us from social rejection, emotional isolation, potentially unsafe situations, and more.
We can hear different perspectives, which exposes us to thoughts and points of view that we’ve never considered before. Only seeing things from one point of view can blind us from potential solutions. If we are convinced that there are no other points of view about a situation, it may lead us to feel stuck.
We can celebrate our wins and share our pain with each other. Celebratory emotions can multiply and painful emotions can diminish when we share them with supportive people. Having a community of support can be helpful for our healing journeys because people can give us helpful suggestions and hold space for us, and we can do the same for them. When we find a community that accepts us for who we are, it can help us cultivate trust, safety, and love for ourselves and for others.
A community can help us foster change because there is strength in numbers. Having many people rally around a cause can help with raising awareness. It lends itself to having diverse experiences, which can help us connect with more people and spread our message to the public. People whose voices have been silenced may feel empowered to use their voices within a supportive community. I personally find that to be true about AVFTI. Sharing my story and volunteering are ways in which I use my voice to help myself as well as other storytellers.
In conclusion, communities serve many purposes. I encourage everyone to think about and celebrate the impact of their communities.
If you would like to be a part of a wonderful community, you can become a volunteer for AVFTI! We’re happy to have you.