Creating Communities of Care
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Who is your neighbor? Some people remember a time when neighbors knew each other and naturally extended support when someone among them faced illness or death. Today neighbors may wave at one another without really knowing each other. Few neighborhoods join together to proactively offer support.
However, two neighborhoods -- Falconbridge in Chapel Hill and Trinity Park in Durham -- joined forces with Project Compassion in 2009 to create community through Support Teams. Here’s a glimpse of their experience.
Falconbridge in Formation
Rosemary Hyde and Ellen Scheiner learned about Support Teams through personal experience. Soon after moving to Falconbridge three years ago, they had a Project Compassion Support Team while Ellen underwent cancer treatment.
During this time, Rosemary and Ellen started dreaming about creating Support Teams in their neighborhood. Rosemary attended a Project Compassion Support Team Development Conference. But before they could begin, Ellen died unexpectedly.
Rosemary continued networking in the neighborhood, advocating for the team approach. In January, nine Falconbridge neighbors attended a Support Team Development Conference.
Now Falconbridge has formed 2 Support Teams helping 10 neighborhood families.
According to Rosemary: “The biggest part of what we’ve done is to reconnect the neighborhood, to let our neighbors know that someone cares. That’s not something a paid professional can provide.”
Falconbridge in Action
Nona Saling was living alone with a chronic illness in the Falconbridge neighborhood when she had a heart attack in May, 2009. Unable to drive for more than 4 months, a Falconbridge neighborhood Support Team coordinated countless rides to doctor’s visits, the grocery store and even to get her car inspected! The team helped her identify needed in-home services and got her involved in a neighborhood walking group.
According to Nona, this neighborly support “allowed me to resume a more normal life.” Nona says: “I am driving now and have joined a Project Compassion team in Falconbridge myself. I am very grateful for all the support I received. ”
Tom and Susan survived Hurricane Katrina. They moved to Falconbridge last year. When Tom was diagnosed with cancer, they were thrust into dealing with treatment alone, not knowing their neighbors.
Thanks to the newly formed Falconbridge network, the team learned about Tom and Susan and reached out to offer support. The team now helps them with meals, respite and visits. In the process their neighbors have become friends.
Susan says: “The people on our team are absolutely incredible. I couldn’t ask for more as a stranger in a strange land.”