Six-year-old Mariah sat perfectly still as I carefully painted a swirling green vine across her forehead and around her soft cheek. We chatted breezily as I added yellow sunflowers to her sweet face. A touch of gold glitter made her smile sparkle all the more.
I recently jumped at the chance to volunteer with a local museum, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, at a community event held at our town’s park. It’s the same park I frequented as a child. I still remember sitting at the small concrete amphitheater listening to someone dressed as The Cat in the Hat read a Dr. Seuss book. I was just about Mariah’s age.
On this sunny June morning, local groups gathered to kick-off a state-wide collaboration called the Sunflower Project. This community project will beautify the area, regenerate soil, and increase natural pollinators like butterflies and bees.
The park was buzzing with people of all ages planting sunflowers, browsing educational booths, devouring funnel cakes, and getting their faces painted. It warmed my heart to see people coming together at a time when we see so much division. A Saturday morning in the city park of one little community painted a different picture.
I’m inspired by the good citizens of our community. They volunteer at hospitals, schools, churches, museums, and other charitable and service organizations. They donate their time, food, money, and other resources. They attend events people work so hard to bring to about. Their support of local government, businesses, athletics, the environment, education, and the arts makes a real difference.
Being part of a community requires the elegance of our participation. Involvement is what makes any community more successful, whether it’s a family, school, workplace, town, state, nation, or planet. Coretta Scott King said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
I can hardly wait to watch the sunflower seeds so carefully planted in our park grow and bloom into a joyful patch of yellow flowers. What a perfect symbol for a thriving community filled with strong and happy citizens. Wherever you spend this fourth of July weekend, I hope you take pride in all of the various communities you are a part of and look for ways you can get involved to make a difference in your life and in the life of others. §
“Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
Featured Art ~ A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1886.