For your health: A strong community benefits us all

Robin Fenn

Renowned author Margaret Wheatley once said, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

After having been with the Verdant Health Commission for almost a year and a half now, I found myself reflecting greatly on this quote. Since I have been welcomed into South County, I have had the privilege to see and feel what community really means. In this past month alone, I saw parents and teens come together to learn more about teen depression and suicide. I watched a full house of concerned local residents come together to be trained on how to administer Narcan, a lifesaving medication, in the unfortunate event of a heroin overdose by someone they knew. More than 75 veterans gathered to share a meal and stories and build support for each other. Influential leaders across our community sat together to have discussions about how to best utilize our limited resources to address homelessness. First responders joined with hospital personnel and others to figure out how to get the right services at the right time to some of our most vulnerable residents. More than 650 people convened to have hard conversations about diversity and racial equity and how to unite with each other to strengthen a community that values everyone equally.

And, throughout all of these experiences, the thing that stuck out most to me was that no one in any of these groups took sole credit for the work that was happening. Again and again, I heard words like, “This is a community project.” “This is a team effort.” “We are all in this together.” And, most poignant, “It is our job to make sure that this is the kind of community that we are all proud to be a part of.” What I have appreciated most about being in South County is that while we won’t always agree with each other, we will pull together to do what is best for the community as a whole.

By the time you read this, you will hopefully have received the most recent version of Verdant’s newsletter, The Canopy. Within its pages, you will see examples of how our Verdant award recipients have made incredible efforts to make your community a better place to live. I am proud not only of them but also all the amazing people in South County who continue to move us all in a positive direction.

My call to action to you is this: Broaden your community. It can be as simple as taking a walk in a neighborhood other than your own, experiencing a park or library that is new to you, or shopping at a different store. It can be as significant as joining a civic group, engaging in local politics, or volunteering your time with a cause that will make South County even better than it already is. If nothing else, just pause at some point during your day and reflect on the services, the caring people, and the dedicated agencies and organizations that make our space home.

— Robin Fenn, Ph.D., LICSW, Superintendent, Verdant Health Commission

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