Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Extended Neighbor Network

From the definition of Neighbor:

1. a person who lives near another.
2. a person or thing that is near another.
3. one's fellow human being: to be generous toward one's less fortunate neighbors.
4. a person who shows kindliness or helpfulness toward his or her fellow humans: to be a neighbor to someone in distress.

From the first days of We've Got Time to Help Michelle and I have said, as loud and as clear as possible, that we will gather volunteers from all the different communities in Portland to help those in need. No matter what the need, if we gather enough volunteers, we can accomplish anything.

Great concept, wrong wording.

To get "volunteers" to help others is an antiquated way of thinking. Gathering "volunteers" was the old way of doing business. We were caught up in old habits. We now see the error of our ways.

Instead, (see numbers 3 and 4 above) we are all, and always have been, neighbors. It doesn't get any more clear or all-encompassing than "one's fellow human being". We feel ashamed for not seeing it before.

So, from now on, We've Got time to Help does not have "volunteers" that will help others in need. We have neighbors that are willing to cross the street or cross the river to help a fellow human being in need. We are all neighbors on this big, round rock and if we could all start to look at it that way, we think it might be just a little bit easier to help one another out in times of need.

We will now call We've Got Time to Help's group of "volunteers" (including ourselves) neighbors in the Extended Neighbor Network. How cool does that sound? We think that, if we can all look at it like we are just neighbors helping neighbors, not only will this be easier for people to offer assistance, but it might make it easier for one of our neighbors in need to reach out for help.

We're not helping a complete stranger, we're just helping a neighbor out that we haven't had the pleasure to meet yet. We're not volunteering, we are just giving a neighbor a hand.

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