1+1=3: The Power of Community


Many moons ago I studied Greek in seminary.  Sadly I have forgotten most of it, but today I want to introduce you to a Greek word I really like: συνέργια (synergia).  It means synergy.  It actually comes from the Greek word συνεργός (synergos) which means “working together.”

Wikipedia defines synergy as:

“the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

DSC_0488This past Sunday I saw συνέργια in living color as 50 volunteers “worked together” to serve 140 people at our 2nd annual David’s Refuge Labor Day Picnic.  Whole families, college students, teachers, high school students, Occupational Therapists, Teaches of the Visually Impaired, Grandmas, retired college professors, pastors, musicians, and many more all joined hands to serve our families, creating an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Once a year we invite all of our guests and their families to a picnic where they can meet other parents who are on the same journey they are on.  No one had to explain why their child was in a wheel chair or couldn’t speak.  No one stared at them as they communicated with their child using sign language or adaptive equipment.  No one felt embarrassed as their child squealed in delight as they bounced in a bouncy house.  We were a family.  We ate.  We laughed.  I saw a few tears.  We played.  We encouraged. And we ate some more.DSC_0526
One family wrote:

That was a very special event. You brought together a lot of beautiful people, showing us all, again, how your son’s spirit has motivated you to make a profound gift to a community who really need it– you bring us respite and also joy, understanding, and celebration. Thank you!!! We love you!!!

The reason our guests experienced joy, understanding, and celebration was because synergy took place.  A community of people came together to serve another community of people and the result was magic.  Eastern Hills Bible Church shared their building with us.  Tops Market provided a beautiful cake and all our hotdDSC_0538og and hamburger buns.  Nice N Easy provided bottles of water and all the chips our guests could eat.  An anonymous donor provided our hotdogs and hamburgers.  Wegmans gave us enough money to supply all our paper goods and condiments and other food supplies.  Dougherty’s Party Services gave us a bouncy house.  Pavone’s provided pizza.  One of our guests and friend provided live music.  Musical instruments were made and shared by an art teacher.

Burgers and hot dogs were grilled, faces painted, games played, bouncy houses enjoyed, parachutes unfurled, cake served, food consumed, pictures taken, conversations enjoyed, new friendships started, old ones rekindled, and hope instilled because they were all reminded that they are not alone!  The power of συνέργια!
We always tell our guests when they arrive that we want them to know they are not alone, that what they do everyday caring for their children is the most important thing in the world, and that they are loved by God.  I believe all these things are possible and true because of the power of synergy.

Enjoy a few more pictures of our wonderful celebration:

DSC_0481DSC_0568 DSC_0630 DSC_0669 Jessie and LeoDSC_0583