I experienced something very cool the other day - and it was even while at work! I'm one of those fortunate ones who get to see folks helped, encouraged and at times inspired on a daily basis, and it was another of these events that again made me realize a couple things:

1. People sometimes experience a crisis

2. People want to talk to other people

3. A listening ear, assistance and information are very valuable (even when a crisis doesn't exist).

Sometimes just a phone call or a drop-in contact provides the needed information and folks are on their way. Sometimes a lot of other stuff needs to get out of the way before a particular need surfaces. Sometimes getting the other stuff out of the way greatly reduces the stress - but not everyone has someone who can or will listen. (See #2). And sometimes the combination of listening and assisting makes someone's day.

I've seen people who begin at a point of almost total meltdown and confusion (we've all been there), transition from panic to relief through information gathering and on to determination and hope. These folks inspire me - inspiration often runs both ways in helping others. A lot of the folks who may be considered "vulnerable" are tough. Resiliency is not the absence of vulnerability. We are all vulnerable in some aspect or another, but do we camp there? Or do we say "I really need help and I'm going to find it!"?

And, with recognition to all the helping agencies and programs out there, help most frequently comes through person-to-person contact. One person asks another who knows someone who was helped, or read something or heard something.

And all the information in the world means little if it's not connected to a person. As has been observed, people relate to people not agencies, programs, acronyms or buildings.

Conversation is an amazing thing. It not only helps us relate to each other, it often gives others a picture of who we are and where we're at; and this dynamic begins the process mentioned above: Getting stuff out of the way. Venting. Unloading. Whatever you call it, we as people need to do it - sometimes often. And as it occurs, we begin to see a focus on what a problem is - and how we can help.

An example might be someone who has recently gone through a life-changing event (a move, losing a job, any one of several family dynamics, new health issues, etc.) and while straining to deal with that, they realize they no longer can afford their prescriptions. A simple question like "Why don't you tell me what's going on and how we can help you?" releases the tide-gate of everything. And that's OK. It's stuff that needs to get out so we can see what we can do to get those medications for you. Or it might be legal problems and we can help with a referral, or assisting you with your new assignment of taking care of grandkids or another family member. Or information about Medicaid programs. Or how to access in-home care or home-delivered meals, or...

In other words, being part of a community of people helping people. Lending both an ear and a hand.

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