The Healing Power of Community

We learned at my former place of work & ministry, Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles, folks don’t just stop an addiction, but get connected to a new community. 

The counseling, trauma informed care, grief therapy, spiritual counseling & mental health assistance were all helpful, but it was the powerful bond of a community all pursuing the same hope, a new sober life, accountability & caring for each other, that was the most effective force for good. 

According to Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: For Hari, “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. 

We all need community and a sense of belonging. As the theme song went for Cheers, a popular show in the 80’s & 90’s. 

“Where everybody knows your name

And they’re always glad you came

You wanna go where people know

People are all the same

You wanna go where everybody knows your name”

“Community is a social group with a common territorial base; those in the group share interests and have a sense of belonging to the group” (Robert Stebbins, Sociology. The Study of Society, Harper and Row: New York, 1987, p. 534).

Just last night on 60 Minutes, a Marine Vet, Nathan Schmidt, used a rope as an example of community. Hero Nathan, heals his own wounds by taking widows & orphans, of the Russian invasion into Ukraine, for a team building climb up a giant wall & then a very difficult mountain climb in the Alps, to develop a healing bond of community. He says the rope represents community, courage, and responsibility to each other. See the episode & the power of community below;

Ukrainian widows, children overcoming grief at Austrian Alps climbing camp | 60 Minutes – CBS News

Our Pastor Sunday morning shared the power of hospitality & a community meal, going on to say our divided world needs this kind of kindness & community more than ever.

A friend sent me an interesting cartoon about how sitting down for tea with someone could bring peace & save the world.

I am not certain of Uncle Iroh’s beliefs, but I do know the power of a caring, kind community is the reason Children & Family Urban Movement’s Supper Club returned to “Come on in” sit down, in person meals March 1st. 

Our dinner guests and volunteers were crying out for this return to the transforming power of face to face breaking of bread along with the relationships, fellowship & community that develops as a result. 

The response has been wonderful. Our guests, staff & volunteers are coming in, overjoyed, and signing up to do more meals. You can too!

We have high hopes and a big vision for CFUM to become a community that feeds kids breakfast & their families supper while promoting literacy through affordable, enriching childcare at all elementary schools on the north side of Des Moines. Stated another way; we intend to end hunger & lack of literary success for all north side youngsters. 

This will take a wave & Movement far bigger than ourselves, but with your partnership and that of DMPS, our great city, Moulton Elementary and others like it, churches and community groups, we can see it happen in 3-5 years. 

Here are some of the benefits of ending hunger from our friends at No Kid Hungry:

Visit today or email me to have us come out & share with you how to join this Community!

– Andy Bales 


  1. 1
    Terri Groover on March 11, 2024

    Hey Andy!
    Heard you were back home and so happy to see this organization!
    I too saw the 60 min. story, how uplifting!
    I will be looking for ways to volunteer for my husband and I as we are retired.
    Welcome home friend.
    Terri Belgarde Groover
    Adel class of ‘76

    1. 2
      Andrew J Bales on March 12, 2024

      Awesome!!! Thank you, Terri!! I remember you!! We would love that!! Andy B 626-260-4761

    2. 3
      Andrew J Bales on March 12, 2024

      Thanks again for the welcome back!

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