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What I learned about Community

This year has been a doozy. Hard time after hard time has hit and to be honest, there were days I wasn’t sure I could push through. Looking back over 2020, I realize the hardest parts were when I felt most isolated. When I couldn’t feel my community around me because I couldn’t physically be with them. It’s easy to look back on 2020 and see only hardship and mess and darkness. But if I look closely, I can also see how communities have shown up in beautiful ways. 

I see neighbors checking in on each other and apartment residents serenading across balconies. I see neighbors delivering groceries and friends sharing game nights over Zoom. I see volunteers passing out food and supplies to those who saw financial struggle, and churches opening their doors to students virtually learning. I see whole cities cheering on those working tirelessly to keep us healthy. I see students and parents in our mentoring program who took the time to check in on me. I see creativity and innovation. I see hope and comfort only found when people show up for each other. 

This year I’ve learned that community means something. That community is more than just a place or a group of people. It’s home and it’s hope. And while there were disappointments and setbacks, I learned that community will find its way back. I hope what we’ve learned this year stays with us. I hope we always remember how we adapted and how communities cared for each other. 

Here at Blueprint 58, our goal is to build relationships in order to build a stronger community. This isn’t always easy, but this year has reminded us how important the work we do truly is. Intentionally walking with our neighbors, loving them and learning from them, is crucial to building a strong supportive community, especially when things get difficult. 2020 has been filled with heartache, but there are parts I hope we hold onto. Because the community I’ve seen flourish this year is one for the history books. 

Madi Hellsten

Madi is the Mentor Coordinator at Blueprint 58. She is a graduate of Georgia State University where she studied psychology and sociology. She began volunteering as a mentor with Blueprint in 2015 and continues to spend time with her mentee. Madi has worked with youth in Atlanta for 5 years ranging from church youth group to refugee resettlement. She is passionate about social justice and loving her neighbors, and is a large advocate for women’s rights. Madi is a lover of queso, a Harry Potter enthusiast, and adventure seeker. She enjoys traveling and writing and performing music in her spare time.

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