A Helping Community

Nov 15, 2017

When I first showed up in Kensington nine years ago, it was because I wanted to help. I thought I might be able to make something – or someone – better. I wanted to be a part of change, or something good.

There’s been a lot of change in my life and in Kensington over the past nine years. It was evident to me last week when we hosted our Halloween fun. With the evolution of our community at The Simple Way, the reality that many of our CORE members have work responsibilities, and the transitional nature of our neighborhood, we didn’t have a solid group of volunteers able to help with the planning and execution of this annual event.

Even still, by the afternoon on Halloween, we had decorations hung, pumpkins ready to paint, apples waiting for bobbing, and caramel perfect for dipping. And hay. So much hay for our candy hunt!

We opened the doors, and a couple more unexpected friends and neighbors showed up to help. And then about 80 kids and their parents arrived for pumpkin painting, bag decorating, caramel apple making, games, and more candy than anyone needs. It was really fun!

I loved talking to Gloria as she helped the kids bob for apples and Margie as she sat and watched. I appreciated Larry rushing home from work to run games and the time Beca put into baking and decorating cupcakes. I was energized by Shane’s excitement to share his Tennessee tradition of a hay pile full of candy. I was happy to have Miguel’s consistent presence and oversight and Coe capturing it all with beautiful photos.

When I got home, I reflected on the day with my husband. I remembered how I’d shown up to help in Kensington. But the event hadn’t been about helping it was just about having fun. It was about being together, making memories, dressing up, playing, laughing, and eating lots of candy.

I had my second baby just three months ago. With a newborn and a busy toddler at home, my days are full, and sometimes it’s hard just to keep the dog fed, dishes washed, and myself sane. The capacity to help seems non-existent. My values and ideals have felt pushed to the outer limits of my life.

But I’m recognizing that being in Kensington is not about me helping. It never was. It’s not about what or who I can fix, save, advise, or set straight. My life in Kensington is about living.

This life is about picking up trash in front of my house because it gets on my nerves. It’s about making space for people to be together and support each other because I need support. It’s about hospitality, generosity, and love. It’s about dressing up with my kid and jumping into a pile of hay with our neighbors on Halloween while someone else holds the baby.

These days I acknowledge that I am in need of as much help now as I thought I had to give nine years ago. And I am humbled by and grateful for the neighbors and friends that offer me help every day. This exchange, this mutuality, this meeting each other in all our various needs has illustrated community for me.
Caz Tod-Pearson


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