When we prioritize certain things in every human interaction it can make the difference between success and failure! As a boy my father coached me to look a person in the eye and give a firm handshake. Our society values fully present interaction. The way we give our attention to others, or not, transmits a message about who we are, if we can be trusted and what we think about them. This “fully present” connection happens in a blink of an eye and it is especially vital in community engagement.
Three reasons the Art of Presence is important in Community Service
First, our presence Heals. Effective service occurs when we are present to listen first and act later. “Healing” occurs before we actually “do” anything! Everyone wants to feel seen and known. When we miss this we accidentally make people feel like a “project” instead of a person to be known. Our presence speaks value.
Second, being present helps us to see the problem behind the problem. The reason people face challenges is hard to see. If we perceive the problem behind the problem we can unlock multiple solutions all at once and empower them to rise above an endless cycle of reoccurring barriers to thriving.
Finally, being fully present defuses static stress. People know they have options and resources to get through challenges but their motivation gets drained by relentless fear and anxiety. Human to human connection refuels folks with enough hope to trust, refocus and rise above the “want-to-try” drain.
For two years our educators have faced anxious parents, masked and remote students, and a culture war that raged on as they, their students, colleagues and families got sick, were hospitalized, and died. What a great time to be present and bring hope to our educators!
Recently Lakewood Connects linked a local branch of a national financial firm; Thrivent, to a teacher affirmation event at an underserved school. These business leaders left their office to greet teachers in the school lounge and serve a catered lunch for over 2 hours! Teachers were encouraged, yes… but the key here was the fact that business leaders were present! They went the extra-mile to sit with educators and connect to them personally. “Feeling valued” happens when “service” moves to feeding a person’s heart and soul with real connection and love!
Lakewood Connects is building a model for school staff affirmation in Lakewood that includes assembling local “teams” from service clubs, churches, businesses and neighborhood association leaders who will continue being fully present into the future with their local school. If you would like more info on this kind of work please contact us at Lakewood Connects! Let’s do good together!