The Power of Community

Posted in: Club Newsletter, Featured, In The News, Reflections Articles

The Power of  Community
by Lauren Branch

As I reflect on my ongoing journey of life, one aspect that stands out to me is the profound significance of community. I think I’ve always thought of community as something defined by geography or shared interests. We as Rotarians understand the value of community…it’s one of the many reasons we proudly call ourselves Rotarians.  But I had an experience recently that challenged my relatively simple perception of what community is.

Last week I had the opportunity to serve breakfast to some of our unhoused citizens here in OKC along-side a couple of our fellow Rotarians.  As we’ve done in the past, we met at the usual spot, helped prepare the breakfast with other volunteers and then the three of us loaded the bus with the food and coffee and headed to our early morning destination.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I could see people start gathering, coming from various directions, from behind doorways, from makeshift homes built on grassy medians, behind building structures, places at first glance you wouldn’t necessarily think that people would be. As they came together, it was obvious to me that many of them knew each other; they were laughing, conversing, sharing, in other words, exhibiting community.  I saw not just individuals in what I would consider a dire situation, but a connected group of individuals bound not only by proximity or common circumstance but by empathy, support, and commitment to one another.

What struck me the most was the genuine kindness and selflessness displayed during this brief encounter.  People were quick to help those who needed it, putting the needs of others in front of their own.  They made sure those who were unable to stand in line, had food and drink.

This brief encounter caused me to think deeper about what a community is and how important community is to the human experience.  And also challenged my preconceived notions about community. I associate community with familiarity—a tight-knit group of friends or neighbors. However, the community that emerged Sunday morning transcended traditional boundaries. It comprised individuals from diverse backgrounds, each with their own struggles and circumstance, brought together by not only adversity but also a shared humanity and a willingness to help other in spite of the challenges they were facing themselves.

That brief glimpse into this community unfamiliar to me reminded me that community is not confined to physical proximity or common interests. It is a fluid, organic, dynamic entity that evolves in response to individual needs and circumstances. And, sometimes, the most profound sense of community emerges from the unlikeliest of places—bonding over shared vulnerabilities, triumphs, and setbacks. Maybe the strength of a community is not tied to its size or structure but rather its capacity for empathy and mutual support driven by difficult situations that can serve as catalysts for the formation of resilient, supportive communities.

What I believe I was observing was not merely a social construct but a lifeline—a source of comfort, resilience, and belonging. Whether in times of joy or sorrow, having a strong support network can make all the difference in one’s ability to navigate life’s challenges.

One of the last people we served laid two cents down on the window counter to share her appreciation.

Little did I know that the most impactful communities can emerge in the most unexpected places.  And this is my two cents.

1 Comments for : The Power of Community
  1. Terrific article. I believe community is the key to happiness, love, spirituality, safety, and survival. I really liked how you took us on the journey of discovery, and that is my two cents.

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