Posts

What do our people need?  A Sense of Community and Belonging

, , , ,

communityA few days ago I was privileged to attend a conference that focused on our veterans, the issues they faced after discharge from service, their expectations, their feelings of social isolation, and how, together, we could provide resources and opportunities to improve their quality of life.

I came to a conclusion after just the first speaker at the event:  The discussion presented described not only to the experience faced by our veterans, but could be applied to every member of our society, no matter what state or city they live.

As you read on, I am confident that you will agree that the Enjoy Life Community® program developed by the Time to Play Foundation provides a valid solution to address many of the issues being faced today, not only by our veterans, but by a majority of our youth and our people.

Perhaps it is time for the people within our communities to stop just “existing” and “surviving” and to start “living”.

The first speaker at the event was a Vietnam Veteran and a chaplain.  For the purposes of this article, we will call him Mr. O.

He presented how a soldier is trained and embraced into duty and described what becomes missing in their lives upon return to civilian life after discharge.

#1:  A sense of purpose:  Mr. O explained that, when a soldier is in active service, they have a “job”.  He explained how the soldier is important in that job, how the members of service “liked” them in that job, and how the armed forces wanted the soldier to succeed in that job.

#2:  A sense of community / belonging:  Mr. O discussed the soldier’s sense of community and belonging while on active duty and how the soldier knew who they were and where they stood with the others in their command (community).

#3:  A sense of Intimacy:  Mr. O described the sense of intimacy felt by the soldier in their command.  He explained how soldiers not only knew the members of their command (community), but how they stood by each other and supported each other.

Mr. O noted that, after the soldier left active service, they no longer felt this sense of community, of belonging, of purpose, or of importance; that, upon discharge from service, they no longer felt the sense of intimacy or sense of value.

Mr. O noted that there is no system to integrate the soldier back into their home community, and that, without their military unit’s support, they cannot “get home”.

Mr. O said that this is when the dilemma of “where do you belong when you no longer belong” sets in, which is when, he noted, that many soldiers turn to drugs or alcohol to find a sense of comfort.  He described his experience talking to incarcerated veterans who feel more comfortable in jail because they are around people who understand them.

Mr. O said that the feeling experienced by veterans becomes most disturbing when no one understands them, when no one understands who they are, and when they no longer have a voice.  He described how these become the feelings that breed the feelings of hopelessness.  He described how the soldier feels lost without the sense of values given to them and lost because what they believe is not what others believe.

It is, at that time, when the soldier feels very lonely and isolated.

After hearing Mr. O speak, it becomes evident how every person would benefit from being embraced by the community in which they live in the manner the armed forces embraces their soldiers.

Further, Mr. O noted that, years ago in our civilian communities, there were clubs and organizations and a sense of belonging in a community; that people socialized together.  Now, he noted, people are increasingly socially isolated and not embracing of others.

As I imply that there are similarities in the feelings experienced by people who are not veterans, I am in no way minimizing the experience of those who have served.  Thankfully, the general population has not seen the circumstances of war that many of our returning veterans have experienced, and I do acknowledge that our veterans may need support services and programs to face the resulting trauma.

But, think about it. . .

What community member is really integrated into our communities throughout their lives starting with our youth? What programs are available that help the general population feel “at home” or help them develop a sense of belonging or a sense of support?  A sense of not being alone even if facing a negative life situation?

How many articles or events do we need to read about where those who feel “different”, not supported, socially isolated or bullied adopt negative coping techniques including the utilization of drugs or alcohol or cause harm to themselves or others in their communities through violent acts?

I believe the need for self worth and the effects of social isolation are the same for every one of us.

I believe that, no matter where we live, WE ALL NEED a sense of community, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of importance, a sense of intimacy and a sense of being of value.

We all need a sense of community.  We all need to belong.

The Enjoy Life Community® model presents a solution to all who live in any community.  It will not only help our veterans re-integrate and feel welcome and at home, but the intention of an Enjoy Life Community® is to:  Bring together all organizations and individuals in a community, encourage proactive community collaboration, utilize the community organizations to trickle information throughout a community, showcase the good work of community organizations to encourage participation by community members, identify areas where community participation is available to increase community involvement with the intention to decrease social isolation, and to utilize the strength and experience of community members in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model is a low cost social intervention that is a visible, non-threatening approach to create quality of life for those in a community.

The Enjoy Life Community® model provides a positive reminder and reinforcement to enjoy life by offering visible cues, establishing pride in a community, and encourages a focus on the positive and the possibilities.

It is a SOLUTION.

It is also important for me to mention here the fact many people do not proactively seek assistance when they are experiencing a negative life situation.  The Enjoy Life Community®, due to its visibility of resources in the community, also offers an opportunity for a more proactive approach to solve this issue.  Additionally, I believe the current system that provides individual counseling may perpetuate (continue) the individual’s experience and current belief system.  Even with outreach or counseling or support programs, the individual may remain isolated and continue to feel “unwelcomed” or segregated from their communities.  That would potentially change in an Enjoy Life Community®.

The Enjoy Life Community® utilizes the resources and people in a community to make it stronger to enhance the quality of life for all.

The Enjoy Life Community® model can be applied to any community, including a school community, college campus or corporate environment to create the feeling that people are important and belong.

If you are interested in learning more about this easy to implement solution, please contact us at 631-331-2675 or email: doreen@timetoplay.com.

Just imagine the possibilities if people in their communities felt supported, not alone, and lived in a place where they were able to share or develop their talents.

Just imagine…

After all, I believe every moment of every day should feel like “play”.  It is time to enjoy life. It is Time to Play.

Love, Doreen

 

# # #

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC:  Doreen holds a Bachelor of Science in Management, a Masters in Business and Policy Studies, is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Certified Social and Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Professional Coach, Certified Life Coach, and the author of the book, If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life.

Doreen is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit organization with the mission and purpose to enrich the lives of others through programs, public awareness outreach activities, events and learning opportunities that further the concept of enjoying life.  The Foundation’s website, www.TimetoPlayFoundation.org, has resources, events and articles for a person to learn what they need to know for a better life.

Photo credit:  http://thedinoffschool.com/about-us/community

Mother's Day

,

Make Someone SmileSo, today I reflect on Mother’s Day, an annual day of recognition and celebration.

First, I’ve got to note that I am a mom of three wonderful children, now all young adults.  I fully recognize that being a mom is probably one of the most important responsibilities and functions in our society.  I certainly can’t say life wasn’t hard or challenging when they were younger, especially during a time when my husband and I worked opposite shifts in order to care for them when they were younger. Certainly there were days I could not even imagine how I could accomplish everything that needed to be done, but somehow we made it through.

Being a mom has been a most rewarding experience, and I am so proud how all three of my babies have grown up to be the most amazing, caring, responsible and civic-minded individuals.  I could not have hoped for anything better and am absolutely so grateful.

Something does trouble me as I reflect on Mother’s Day.  I did read about the origination of Mother’s Day by a woman named Anna Jarvis.  She began her work to make Mother’s Day an official National holiday in 1905 after her mother died, and it took until 1914 when Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation to make the 2nd Sunday in May the national holiday.  You are welcome to read more about her, but it had been noted that she was very upset about the day being exploited by organizations to make profit, and even brought lawsuits to try to end the commercialization.

So, here’s the part that might make people angry at me.  I don’t believe anyone has to buy me a gift because I’m a mom.  I believe that people should appreciate each other every day.  I believe we should recognize and thank our loved ones, friends and family every day, not just once a year.  Every day should be a people appreciation day.  What a better world this would be if we thanked everyone we came into contact with, appreciated their service, time, assistance, or love.  Celebrating once a year is just not enough.

That brought me to thinking about other holidays like Veteran’s Day.  Personally, I thank our veterans every day.  If I see a veteran, I always thank them for their service.  I know my life would be quite different right now if these brave men and women did not sacrifice so much to protect our freedoms.

So, happy people day.  I appreciate all of you who contribute to our society and to the lives of others. I salute our soldiers and veterans, our teachers, our police officers, our healthcare workers, our civil service workers, and the rest who make contributions to our daily lives and making our lives the best possible.

As a mom, I am proud of you.  As a person who has a mom, I am thankful that she gave me the opportunity to be here to make a difference, the best way I can, in the lives of anyone I can.

Today I celebrate you and hope to make you smile.

Pass it on.

Love,

Doreen

# # #

Doreen Guma, MA, FACHE, CPC, CLC is the founder of the Time to Play Foundation, a 501c3 not for profit corporation inspiring everyone to enjoy life.  Please see www.timetoplay.com for more information.

Remembering Those in Need

, , , ,

 

Remember

Remember

This article was triggered by my frustration trying to help a lovely woman in need and my inability to rally people to help.  It breaks my heart how one person can give so much and can wind up so alone, fighting insurmountable obstacles. 

With this being Memorial Day, I started thinking broader about the silent plight of so many. 

I am a person who looks at an issue and sees the “big picture”, not just what directly affects me.  I continuously marvel about how today’s “problems”, in many cases, are not new.  Many of these issues are recurring in our society.  Time and again I marvel at how history repeats itself – it we let it – which I did go into greater detail in our book, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now, Our Quest for Quality of Life” (www.ifiknewthenbook.com).  

I continuously assume people will feel the same urgencies I do for certain things and about situations that affect us as a whole.  Time and again I wind up frustrated, disappointed or surprised.

With this being Memorial Day, I am reminded of a conversation I had with an elected official.  I asked him why we don’t hear daily reports about our military personnel or the plight of our veterans.  He told me that, unlike during the world wars when everyone was affected, only 1% of people in our country are currently connected to military personnel or situations. 

My family does not have anyone in the military, but I totally believe that we should care about the men and women who are protecting our freedoms, at home and abroad.  I believe we should know what they need, how to help, and how to care.  Not just on Memorial Day or Veterans Day, but every day. 

Did you know that 22 soldiers a day commit suicide?  http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2013/02/05/22-the-number-of-veterans-who-now-commit-suicide-every-day  Did you know that many Veterans are homeless? There are many articles that gave a statistics that approximately 58,000 veterans were homeless in the year 2013.  It is so hard for me to believe that someone could fight for our freedoms and end up in this manner. Through my work experience in healthcare I have learned that many don’t know where to get help or the resources available.

If you look into history, these situations that currently affect our Veterans are not new.  We still hear the term “the forgotten war”, and many talk about our current Veterans fitting into this same category. 

Working in quality improvement for many years, I have learned that you cannot ignore issues – things will only continue to get worse.  I have learned that it is better to weigh your options and implement the best possible solution when first identifying the problem.  This can be applied to anything; for example a hole in a pipe will get larger and larger (it won’t go away), health problems will continue to compound, or a car that is in disrepair will eventually stop working. 

I am acutely aware that one person cannot be involved in and deal with everything, but I am also aware that many people might just say, “That’s too bad” and move along in their day.  I believe there are so many things that get put on the back burner without getting the proper attention that it should.  In the end, issues will just get larger and continue to reappear.  Just watch our nightly news and the stories that we hear over and over.  We see the same situations, on a daily basis, just reported on with different names and dates.

With this being Memorial Day, please take a moment today to reflect on our Veterans, their dedication and sacrifice.  Perhaps do a quick “Google” search to find one of the many organizations working to help our Veterans.  Perhaps there is something you can contribute.  If each one of us does one little thing to help, we can make things better.  That’s the concept behind “people helping people” and Time to Play (www.TimetoPlay.com).

I’ll even inappropriately venture out on this Memorial Day and ask you to stop a moment to consider the plight of others, those who may not be Veterans.

In reference to my dear friend, she has been going through a horrible health crisis for almost a year.  She’s just one of many who are going through a crisis in their lives or the lives of their loved ones.  I had believed she had a stronger support group than she actually does have.  Maybe I just want to believe that everyone has some type of support group or a person they can count on in their time of need.  The more I’ve been working on the Time to Play project, the more I realize that just isn’t so and how many people are out there truly out there on their own. 

In this particular case, I’ve been trying to do a fundraiser for her with not great results.  Maybe it’s because she is not a young child, maybe people just have too much of their own stuff that they are dealing with.  Through working on Time to Play, many have said to me that, unless something directly affects a person, it is hard for them to wrap their minds around the plight of another. 

I will never be able to accept that. 

We all need to care. 

People Helping People.  Collaboration = Success.