The weather is starting to slowly change, and I must admit I like it. If I could just sit under my maple tree and watch it turn through the various shades of autumn, I think everything would be right in the world. Then my mind takes over — I think about the things in my back yard that need to be cleaned up, moving plants into the greenhouse and house, and a million other things I need to get done and never seem to have the time to do. Amongst all of that is the thought of maybe inviting my neighbors and friends for a cookout when it’s comfortable outside, like about now. Then I go off on the tangent of cleaning the house, so folks would be comfortable in my home, and lose the entire meaning of what I am trying to do.
In this day and age when we are all so busy, and attached to our technology devices, I find I have to kick myself to get up and do all the little things. I like being able to answer emails and texts or make a pithy comment on social media to make someone laugh. I sit and get lost in the fact that technology is supposed to help me have more time for face-to-face connections, when in fact, it is doing the exact opposite.
During the hurricane, I got out of my house and talked with my neighbors. When I was able to leave, I brought them groceries and vowed I would be a better neighbor and check on them. I did fairly well through Easter, then my positive intentions met my schedule, and it deteriorated from there.
You see, now that I think about it, I think our world could use a little more old-fashioned, face-to-face caring, and perhaps, we should start right here at home. Yes, there is family that we care for, but what about the folks next door, across the street, and down the block? Do you look out for each other, just go by to say, “Hello, is there anything you need?” See to me, one of the benefits of living in a smaller community is the opportunity to care for each other, and I think sometimes we get so caught up in what’s going on around us we forget that.
Nationally, 4-H is 6 million youth strong. In Robeson County, that translates into about 6,000 youth, each one with the capacity and need to care for their neighbors and community. I know your first thought, and mine, is for our youth’s safety. However, I dare say that if we connect with our neighbors and get to know them and let our youth get to know the folks around them, we will be making a much safer world. I believe if we care about our neighbors as we care about ourselves, we have the opportunity to make the world a better place. Our 4-H members already give back more than 10,000 hours in community service work through 4-H, school, and church. That is incredible for our community; now how do we all make that difference right next door? Maybe we should all take the leap and fall into caring.
Shea Ann DeJarnette is an Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. She can be reached at 910-671-3276 or by email at Shea_Ann_DeJarnette@ncsu.edu.