Even before quarantine made our world a good bit smaller, many of us lived fairly sheltered lives in Columbia/HoCo. We often live in neighborhoods with folks more or less like us, work with people like ourselves. More and more our children go to school with children who are more alike than different. Even our places of worship can be islands of homogeneity. Our self-selected social media communities reflect that sameness.
Your individual case may differ. I know I am generalizing. And for those of you who say, “that’s not what Columbia is all about,” well, yes. I know that.
As long as we keep ourselves separate from people who are different we lack the life experiences and perspective to truly value them as part of our community. Ignorance, and the fear that comes with it, is what leads to “othering” and avoidance.
Right now in Columbia/HoCo there is an army of volunteers organized by founder Erika Strauss Chavarria to provide for families in crisis through Columbia Community Care. I have been wondering if this experience may bring about a change for those participating. Assisting families day after day, whether at a center or by shopping and delivering to those who aren’t able to get out, has put them in direct contact with people they might not ordinarily see.
What happens when people who were once invisible to you become visible? When they become vividly human and not just an abstract concept?
I wonder if a charitable venture, created as a response to overwhelming need, may also be a changing force for those who are giving and working. Could their participation be a turning point in how they understand vulnerable groups in our community?
Charitable activities can sometimes be associated with a sort of benevolent superiority which renders the recipients inherently unequal. I don’t get that feeling from Columbia Community Care. That’s why I think that it has become one of the best catalysts for community transformation in Howard County. The website states:
Finding a common purpose in our shared humanity.
This could truly change
things people. For the better.
For more information about Columbia Community Care, visit their website .