In one sense, the word describes a group of people living in the same geographic space or having a common characteristic. Many of us are part of numerous communities, including our hometowns, neighborhoods, churches, schools and professional organizations.
Community also is something less tangible: our combined human experience. Regardless of which city we live in, how we worship or what our political affiliation is, we share a common humanity. During times of crisis, we are reminded what it means to be part of the global community.
Hilliard has a strong sense of community. We celebrate our diversity while also sharing many similar values, interests and desire for exceptional quality of life.
Since our response to the COVID-19 coronavirus began in March, many local businesses, nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies and residents have coordinated efforts to help those in need. After all, this crisis impacts each of us.
For example, the Hilliard Community Foundation's "Hilliard Gives: We're All In This Together" charitable initiative came together quickly and raised money that provided grants for the Hilliard Food Pantry, Patches of Light, the Hilliard Kiwanis Club and Hilliard First Baptist Church Day Care and Learning Center to support local nonprofits that are working to meet the urgent needs in our community.
Our Hilliard Food Pantry has risen to the challenge of feeding a record number of families during the months of March and April. Employees and volunteers have worked hard to provide goods to those in need while maintaining safety for all. Because of their efforts, hundreds of additional families have received services.
Hilliard City Schools educators and staff members are going above and beyond to ensure the needs of every student are met. Teachers are providing remote instruction, and the district is handing out free lunches to any student who needs them. You might have seen the street banners recognizing senior athletes hanging in Old Hilliard, and the district is working on creative approaches to graduation and other life milestones.
The Hilliard Chamber of Commerce and Destination Hilliard are working closely with local businesses to support them with information, resources and promotion, including the creation of social-media groups specifically designed to promote the available local restaurant carryout and delivery options.
City staff members also have worked to reach out to the community in new ways, from providing free activities for the mind, body and spirit through the Healthy Hilliard initiative to working with the Rock City Church Hilliard, the Hilliard Church of Christ, Mayfair Village Nursing Care Center, Heartland of Hilliard and local restaurants to provide free meals to seniors.
I've been impressed by these and so many other acts of kindness happening in our town. Families have created sidewalk-chalk murals spreading hope and love, vehicle "parades" have made children's birthday days special and neighbors are checking in on each other to make sure they are safe.
I am so proud of our collective response.
Community. It's the first word that comes to mind when I think of Hilliard.
Michelle Crandall is Hilliard's city manager.