Not many years ago, a friend of mine lost her home to a fire here in Chestermere. A blaze broke out and she had to flee with her family and only a handful of of belongings. When she first told me the story of gathering outside and watching her home and family photos go up in flames, I was struck by how thorough and destructive an experience like that could be. A call from an insurance company that “everything is going to be alright,” seemed to be cold comfort in the face of such personal loss.
It is the second part of this story which is, for me, the most inspiring. She told me about how people in Chestermere came together to support her. Money, food, gift cards, and support poured in from all over town. A news story in The Anchor lists people, the church, businesses, and community groups who all came together to stand with her family during their loss. People offered amazing grace and personal care when it was needed the most. Their house and furniture were insured by a company, but their well-being was insured by their community, neighbours, church, friends, and family.
It was a different kind of insurance that really made this story special for me. It was the insurance that comes from a neighbourhood that noticed a need and stepped in to offer care. It was the insurance of knowing that no matter what awful thing might happen, there are neighbours with the time, resources, and love to step in and carry the burden of the loss together.
Today my friend and her family live down the street from me in her brand new home. When we needed someone to water our plants this summer, her little girl did a fantastic job of keeping our flowers alive. I have experienced the ways that they now extend grace and hope to the people they meet. In many ways, I feel like they offer ‘neighbourhood insurance’ to me! When I’m not sure where to turn when I’m in a pinch, I have a friend down the street who is so attentive to the needs of those around her. I feel safer knowing I have a neighbour like that. Every time we bump into each other while we’re out for a walk, I am reminded of their powerful, hard, and life transforming experience.
What are the ways that we can create a sense of community insurance here in Chestermere? When a truck is stolen, when a cat runs away, or when a new baby is born, we can see these as moments to come along side one another and offer, out of the abundance of our own resources, the kind of friendship and insurance that money can’t buy. As we step into the neighbourhood and share life with others we will begin to see how Chestermere will be all the more beautiful for it.
Into the Neighbourhood Experiment: Think about your neighbours, who would you turn to in a pinch? What kind of ‘insurance’ do you have in the people you know on your street?