By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

29 August 2011

You’ve see the T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers saying Army Strong. It is time show Community Strong.

Even though it was over forty years ago I remember Boot Camp pretty well. Boys were made into men in eight weeks both physically and mentally. At that time, as now, many went off to war and not all came back. Boys from all over the country, with all kinds of back rounds, were brought together to gain the knowledge, discipline, and tools to become Our Nations defenders of freedom.

Today we have hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes in many parts of the country. Today we have all kinds of people with all kinds of back rounds in need of assistance and our greatest resource is people. The country may be broke, but our people’s spirits are not broken. It is because of our people’s spirits and resourcefulness that we will rebuild.

There are two examples of Community Strong I would like to share with you. One is where a neighbor was able to cook on his stove because he had a manual, not electric, gas stove and oven when the electricity was out for days because of a storm. His neighbors either had electric stoves or electric starts to their stoves and ovens. He invited his neighbors in to share the use of his stove and oven in order that his neighbors could enjoy a hot meal. The story never made the papers and it was not supposed to.

The second example of Community Strong is where a neighbor offered to put another neighbor’s frozen foods in his freezer just because he still had electricity and the other neighbor’s electricity was out because of Irene. It is not known when it will be back on.  Neither neighbor called a press conference.

Neighbors have been helping neighbors for a very long time, even before formal governments were formed. It was neighbors helping neighbors that formed the basis for formal governments.

As we know there are groups of people who help each other out because they are in a similar circumstance, even though they may not otherwise do so. This is also the idea behind support groups.

Whether it is Habitat For Humanity, American Legion, AA, NAMI, or other helping organizations they are designed to help others while helping each other. Each organization has a purpose and a mission to help a certain portion of the population with certain needs.

NAMI and other organizations that assist family and friends of people who have been affected by the medical condition of a mental illness, as well as those who have a medical condition of a mental illness, don’t receive the same status as Habitat For Humanity, American Legion or AA in people’s minds.  This is the stigma that needs to be eradicated.

In this particular trying time hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes it is especially urgent that neighbors help neighbors. One urgent way neighbors should be looking out for each other is looking for signs of despair, depression, anxiety, or worry about their present circumstances, especially if they just lost everything they own. When we knew our neighbors we could more easily tell when our neighbor was in distress. Often times a good listening ear is what is really needed.  I can’t give you any specific advice other than to observe, listen, talk with, and if needed refer someone to a professional for assistance.

We can’t depend on our government for much assistance to rebuild. We can depend upon our greatest resource; which is each other. There are no shortages of needs, pick one or more that you can help with and go to work. Show how you are Community Strong.

Reverend Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries of MA and AZ and Founder of the Family Renewal Center of AZ. and


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