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Building Resiliency through Community

Building Resiliency through Community

Genee Francis

Psychology Today defines resilience as “the ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever.” Describing those with resilience, the article continues, “Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”

At WinShape Homes, we serve children who often come from complicated home environments where resilience has been required. Resilience is transactional and activated by the reciprocal relationship between a person and their environment. We have the opportunity to come alongside the children and families that we serve in their journeys as we strive to create a safe, caring and empowering community filled with the love of Christ.

Britannica defines community as “an interacting group of various species in a common location.” The variation between the members of the human species makes our world a beautiful and diverse place. At WinShape Homes, we create communities for a diverse group of children who represent many different cultures and backgrounds. Our homes reflect Britannica’s definition of community, and the interactions that take place there are vital in the lives of the trauma-impacted children that we serve.

In some ways, building resiliency is similar to the process of building a muscle; it takes time and intentionality. The American Psychological Association identifies four core components to growing resiliency: connection, wellness, healthy thinking and meaning. Studies show that intentionally including these four components in communities empowers community members to withstand difficult and traumatic experiences and even learn from those hardships.

Community can be both a feeling and a set of relationships among people. People form and maintain communities to meet common needs.

Members of a community share a sense of trust, belonging, safety and care for each other. They also maintain an individual and collective sense that they can influence their environments and the people around them. As we strive to nurture communities that grow resiliency for the children and families we serve, it is crucial that we create authentic spaces where connection, wellness, healthy thinking and meaning are all cultivated.

While striving to encourage effective coping and adaptation, keep in mind the following five benefits:

  1. Community is fun. Community should not feel forced or burdensome. Foster a lively and authentic environment.
  2. Community encourages fellowship. Children feel safe and empowered when they connect and collaborate with others in healthy and positive relationships. Active participation in civic groups or other local organizations provides social support and can also help cultivate hope. Romans 12:4-5 reminds us that we are much better together than we are alone. Helping children make connections with others will not only grow their support system, but it will also build their empathy.
  3. Community fosters encouragement. In a strong community, members lift one another up, learn from one another, and support the needs of those around them. Community serves as a reminder that we are not alone on this journey.
  4. Community is life-giving. When we grow in our relationships with others, we are growing in relationship with Christ. Engaging in healthy and positive relationships can positively model how to care for self, love self, love others and empower change.
  5. Community is a gift from God. It is God’s desire for us to dwell in fellowship with others, and it is essential to following Christ.

God did not intend for Christians to live out their faith alone. God encourages community. Jesus brings people from all walks of life together so that we do not have to go through life alone. Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us to not give up meeting together, but it is not about assembling at a church building. It is a reminder for believers to live a life that aims to consider others through exhortation and fellowship.

As a caretaker, get to know the children that you serve, study them, learn their stories and assess their needs. The ultimate goal is to spur them on toward love and good deeds, through encouragement and belonging.

While the children in our homes may not be able to control many of life’s circumstances, they can grow in resilience and manage difficulties that come with the support of loved ones and trusted professionals — through community.