What Community Means

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under    CC BY-SA-NC

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC

Although I didn’t always…

… appreciate it at the time, growing up in a big family with eleven siblings provided me with an opportunity to learn about the importance and value of community. My family was a microcosm of the world beyond our front yard, and I took that philosophy seriously and put it to work in building a strong sense of neighborhood right here in the Castro/Eureka Valley.

Growing up, my parents were the heads of our family community. They instilled in each kid a sense of co-responsibility- keeping it clean, respecting others, and rewarding hard work, and they exposed us to different ways of thinking and living, which inspired us to see the world from a place of curiosity rather than fear. That might seem idyllic, but it’s my philosophy to this day.

My parents taught me how to reach out, take risks and call others into living life. Dad would throw huge summer bratwurst and beer parties for 300 of his best friends, and mom would invite interesting people to more intimate dinner parties every month. There was laughter, serious discussion, and commitments made.

As I’ve grown older, I find I’ve taken a page from their playbook on the importance of building a community wherever I live. Volunteering, leading, bringing others together in the community in which I live is my passion. My time and resources are in service to the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association (EVNA), a group in continuous service since 1881. As president, my goal is to educate and bring neighbors together around issues that we have in common. Outside of my marriage and career, I consider this the most rewarding work for me.  

Over the past ten years, I’ve volunteered with many groups in the Castro/Eureka Valley. From being a Board Member for the Castro Merchants Association, a panelist on the Castro/Upper Market Retail Strategy Group, and fundraiser for Castro Cares, and most recently being the President of the EVNA, I continue to see how important it is for us to come together. Communities are about connecting, sharing, and even healing through the tough times.

If you haven’t attended an EVNA public meeting, or volunteered in general, I urge you to. The quickest way to forget your troubles is to give your time to someone else. Find a church, a senior center, a special group where you can give. It’s a great way to step out, become part of something bigger than yourself, and it will make an impact on others, as well.