Memories at ActiveRain - Learning the Value of Community
I still remember when I started "actively" (pun intended) writing and commenting on AR, back in August 2007. Once I took the time to start really exploring this network, I was hooked. There was so much information at my fingertips - it was like having a stack of textbooks available anytime I needed an answer.
Mortgage info. Short sales. Business tips. Great writing. This place seemingly had it all.
But most importantly, it had something that I have yet to find anywhere else - a real sense of community. I made real friends here. My early friends on ActiveRain laughed together....a lot.
Not too long after I started blogging on ActiveRain, I shared the struggles of my friend David who was undergoing cancer treatments for the second time. He had just purchased a home with his wife Jan a few months prior to that, and they had NO health insurance at all, since his employer didn't provide it for him. Clearly, there was no way that they could truly afford the mountain of medical debt that accrued during those months. In fact, Jan was taking care of David most of the time and unable to work as much, and she was faced with mortgage and utility payments that were simply not affordable on her salary.
I decided to turn to my ActiveRain friends.
Although my connections here at the time were a mere fraction of what they have since become, I was both touched and impressed by the outpouring of support for my friend and his wife, who were only known to this community through my writing about them. Several others agreed to blog about this, too, in an effort to help spread the word quickly. I received $5,000 on their behalf, which helped Jan to save her house, rather than dealing with the prospect of foreclosure along with losing her husband.
Along with the checks that poured in, I found something else in the mail. My AR friends sent cards and messages of hope, both for me and for Jan. One member sent $1,000! Another one sent $400. I will never forget this gesture, even for those who were only able to send $5 to help my friend. Bob Stewart also took the time to send me a long, heartfelt, handwritten letter of encouragement.
In late March of 2008, my friend David Wilder passed away, and not too many weeks have passed since then when I wasn't reminded of him in some way. His legacy has been very powerful in my life, as I later felt compelled to help start a new church nearby, since that would have a greater impact on others. As I was writing this post, I realized that this is part of the reason that I felt compelled to read the entire proposed health care bill. I have seen firsthand how quickly someone can go from financially healthy to buried in debt, just from one serious illness.
If you ever doubt the value of blogging here at ActiveRain, I can attest to the value of the real community that exists here. This is not the only time that I have felt the support and friendships that go deeper than "virtual" networking. I feel richly blessed to have had this experience, as I will likely never forget the love and genuine empathy that I felt here.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read this one.