Karen Groff Hendricks
A LIFE CHANGE TO ORDER
Karen Groff Hendricks had only lived in Lake Stevens for about a year and a half when she fell ill. She didn’t have any family or friends here. Most can relate to feeling vulnerable under those conditions. She remembers really wanting someone to bring her a Ginger Ale but there was no one to ask for that small favor. She had elderly neighbors but she wasn’t going to ask her 88-year-old neighbor to venture out on a cold winter day to get her a drink. Through her depression she knew how important it was for her to make some friends and connect with community. Years ago there were community barbecues and picnics but that’s not the case now. So, how does one find friends and connect?
As luck would have it, she learned about Being Neighborly from a woman she met at the food bank. Based on the name of the group, she thought it was exactly what she needed and wanted. So, in January 2017, she joined and wasn’t disappointed.
One of the first posts she saw was one posted by a young mother whose child had a temperature of 102 degrees. This mother had run out of diapers and couldn’t take her baby out into the cold to get some. So, she asked if someone could get them for her. And, someone offered to help right away. Karen never commented on that post but it was a turning point. She knew that this kind of community is exactly what she needed. This one gesture not only warmed her heart, it also restored her faith in humanity. It was a significant step away from a serious depression.
The daily Being Neighbor Facebook activities felt kind of like an old-fashioned book club where people come together for fun and to chat. There were lots of ways to share bits about yourself from the privacy of your own home and to get to know others little by little. She found this to be a very comfortable way to ease into a more socially active and purposeful life. And there was a steady stream of all kinds of different activities and projects available.
She knew that she wanted to be helpful to others and so she shared her skills. Being a resourceful person, it seemed logical to offer to maintain a Resource List for the community. Projects that didn’t require her to commit to be at a certain place or at a certain time were perfect for her due to living with Lupus. So, when a coordinator was needed for the Camping Lending Library, she offered to do that. This project still gave her all the flexibility she needed, and it also gave her more person to person contact. She decided to come regularly to the different Being Neighborly events and over time she felt more and more comfortable with this group of people. Now she is a key team member in our Being Neighborly Garden Share community garden project and shares the sense of group ownership and group pride at our accomplishments.
This purposeful yet flexible involvement with others has greatly contributed to her feeling so much happier. In fact, now, she’s confident that if and when she might need someone to get her a Ginger Ale, there will be people happy to do that for her! Being Neighborly has made a huge difference in Karen’s life and she is grateful.
Lake Stevens, WA