By Drew Johnson
“Community” is an interesting word. It means different things to different people – it might mean your circle, your town, or even your group on Facebook or your fanbase (I’m a Wolverine for life). But at its core, community is about helping others. It’s about recognizing that humans are wired for connection and support, and that groups of people have survived for millennia by working together to solve problems and help each other.
The pandemic really made us think about community. Suddenly we were separated from people who we loved and worried about everyone else buying up all the toilet paper and peanut butter. We could have forgotten all about community. But a funny thing happened – we came together. All over the country, people had drive-by birthdays, put teddy bears in windows and sewed masks for healthcare workers.
As the director of South County Community Services, I saw people donate their stimulus checks and volunteer to deliver food to seniors. People were worried. The world was turned upside down, and nobody could do anything about it. The only thing we knew, through all the chaos, was that other people had it worse off than we did. So we helped them any way we knew how. THAT’s community.
We live in a time when it is easier than ever to feel isolated from the people around us. If I wanted to, I could pick up my groceries curbside, order my non-essentials on Amazon, and spend my days working from home, all without ever seeing a soul. In this new column, I hope to inspire you to reject that path and seek to actively be a part of your community.
I live in Kalamazoo and was worried that when I came down to work in Vicksburg I would always feel like an outsider.
But the opposite happened.
I found a Village that was welcoming and supportive, that cared about its neighbors and reached out to help those in need. So this is an encouragement to anyone else who is on the outside: Don’t just look in, GET in. Maybe to you that looks like talking to a neighbor or checking in on a friend. Maybe it means volunteering at or donating to a local nonprofit. Every month I’ll bring up a new idea – many of them will be things you have done before, or thought about doing before, but sometimes we just need a little push to actually get out there and do it. I’m looking forward to the journey and hoping to get to know some more of you along the way!
Drew Johnson lives in Kalamazoo and is the Director at South County Community Services. He has a small quarter acre homestead with chickens, bees, and hops (and more!), a wonderful wife, and three energetic children. He can be reached at 649-2901 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on South County Community Services, please check out our Facebook at
facebook.com/southcountycs or visit our website.
By Drew Johnson