I got a lesson in ‘community’ today.

As I was painting feverishly at the arts center a man knocked on the window and mouthed, “Do you need some help?” I stupidly mouthed back, ‘That’s OK.” – not wanting to impose. Thank goodness he didn’t give up. He said, “I can paint!” Finally realizing that I should shut up and say ‘well get in here then’, I smiled and said, “Well get in here then!”

We introduced ourselves and Jim asked what we were doing in here. I proudly stated, “Opening an arts center!” He smiled and enthusiastically said, “Oh really? I do art.”

And he does! He really does. He showed me pictures of some of his work. It was amazing! He then picked up a paintbrush and worked his butt off with us for the rest of the day.

I looked at my friend and said, “I just want to cry. How amazing is this???”

She was almost in tears – simply touched by the fact that we didn’t even have to ask. He just wanted to help. We were all there to make something amazing happen. And that was enough.

I sat silently for a minute – kind of taking it all in. My eyes were welling up. This was a risk. I may be a relentless dreamer, but down deep, I knew that.

Another friend leaned in, looked at me and said, “Don’t be surprised. This is what a community does when it is given the chance – and this center is already bringing the community together.”

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Author Julie Ufema

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