Living Life: Sense of Community

By Dianne Smith
Reader Columnist

“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” 

-Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

Sandpoint, for a small town, has some awesome community organizations and support. Do you know that you can get a free meal every day of the week someplace in Sandpoint? There is a growing list of wonderful organizations and people who want to give to the community and make this a great place to live. Some organizations simply want to give to others, like Angels Over Sandpoint, 101 Women and Creations and some provide services that benefit the community such as the Teen Center and your local library. The support I love the most however, is the informal community web that social media has only enhanced.

Dianne Smith.

Dianne Smith.

Did you know that there is a Facebook page appropriately named Sandpoint Helping Hands? There is a lot of informal support and what I see as connectiveness that helps make this community a great place to live. The Hoot Owl provides a free meal on Monday and has stepped up and coordinated donations of winter clothing. You can go there and get a free jacket or boots, no questions asked. Natalie Larson stepped up and started a Facebook page, Bonner County Volunteer Network. The page provides information about opportunities to do a one time volunteer event that helps make the community great. They have had events at Creations and Panhandle Animal Shelter so far. Volunteering has so many benefits for both the recipient and the volunteer so I will look forward to seeing what they offer next.

Need a service or help and don’t know where to go? One of the newer supports in town is the Sandpoint Community Resource Center, which started out as an informal support with a written notebook of places people could go for help. They now have a self-help directory on their webpage that has links to wonderful resources in town. If you would rather talk to a person, you can call or go in to their office located at the old Columbia Bank building Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. As an organization their goal is to provide links to services and support organizations in coming together and wrapping the community with the social services needed to help the community thrive. If you are looking for a place to volunteer the Resource Center can provide you with ideas and they also have a great calendar on their webpage that lists great community events and opportunities.

It makes my heart warm and puts a smile on my face to see all the good things that happen in the community. At the end of the day I think there really is more positive going on here than some of the Facebook posts would have you believe. I watch people reach out when others ask for help and offer simple things like a gently used jacket.

I watched a gentleman step up on Facebook and offer to buy a young girl new glasses when hers went missing at school. He didn’t know her but he saw an opportunity to help. I watched how people stepped up to help the families who lost everything in fires. Maybe they didn’t have money to give but they offered in other ways that were just as helpful. I watched others plow and shovel for those who couldn’t and ask for nothing in return. I read a post of a young mother walking to the store with her young children in the rain, and someone gave her a ride both to the store and home. How awesome is that? If you look around you can see it everywhere.

People reaching out to others sometimes with nothing more than a smile who are wanting to see the good in the community and make it a great place to live.

Dianne Smith, LMFT is a licensed counselor who works with both children and adults. She has offices in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint and can be reached at 951-440-0982.

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