Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As 2007 draws to a close… A Message by Bob Kell
This past year has been a unique year for the Faribault Diversity Coalition. The support of the Blue Cross/ Blue Shield and Foldcraft foundations, added to the support from the United Way, the City of Faribault, and generous donors, made it possible for us to expand our services in the community. With the Somali Community Resettlement Service as a partner, the Welcome Center and Coalition have worked to invite Faribault residents of all cultures to join in the effort to build community among us.
What is different? Many residents who needed assistance with communication or information solved problems, found employment, and met needs with the help of Welcome Center staff. People from the Somali, Latino, and mainstream community spent time together in Sharing Circles where they shared experience and perspectives that helped us know one another better. Immigrant and established families planted and harvested gardens in a shared plot, growing more aware of one another in the process. Women from different cultures spent some summer mornings together, learning how their experiences differ but how much their concerns are the same. The need for food support expressed by many led to a newly flourishing food shelf and plans for a mini-coop. People with coats came to share with those in need and many are warmer, both inside and out, because of it.
It was a good year. One was reminded of the common ground we share as human beings. The generosity and desire of people to extend a hand to one another warmed the heart. Of late, that generosity has been so apparent: a $2000 gift from a local donor, an anonymous contribution of $100 “to help people out”, $500 from an organization choosing us as the recipient of their annual Christmas donation…It all makes such a difference.
Where to from here? We head into a new year with more work ahead. The City gave us the opportunity to enlarge our space at the Welcome Center, so our creativity has expanded to fill it! Volunteers from the Sharing Circles have offered to start ESL support classes and teach sewing. We are looking for new ways to help families meet their food need through coop buying. And we are gearing up for a bigger garden.
But the real work is that of continuing to bring people together. We have learned that real community can only exist where there is respect for each one’s truth, a “roll-up-the-sleeves” willingness to find solutions, and a belief in our shared humanity. We invite all who wish to join us this coming year in building that community together.
May you and your family find inspiration in these days, however you celebrate them, as we focus on religious events and year’s end. Peace to you all.
With Best Wishes,
Bob Kell, Welcome Center