August 23, 2017

Princeton Human Services Is About to Kick Off “Welcoming Week” for Community Newcomers

To the Editor:

All of us, especially immigrants and new Americans, long for connection and community, for having our gifts recognized and for the opportunity to reach our full potential.

While our concepts might vary widely, home and community do have concrete meaning for us all. Real love for home and family can extend to neighbors — and through involvement in civic, non-profit, or religious organizations, benefit the entire community.

Perhaps in its broadest sense, community is the experience of being at home. Michael Jacoby Brown goes as far to say, “Community is one of those things that’s hard to define. But you know it when you are in it. It’s a feeling that you are not alone, that you are part of something greater than yourself, yet even when you are in it, you are still yourself.”

I remember feeling an intense longing for community when I worked in Montreal for a year. Apart from a few acquaintances at work and the local church I attended, I didn’t know anyone. I couldn’t figure out where I belonged. Should I return home to the U.S. or stick it out in Canada? The decision became easy when Canadian immigration officials denied a visa extension and I received a job offer in Portland, Maine!

For those immigrants and new Americans who have chosen Princeton as their home, it’s all about getting to the place where life seems right again. For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to other cultures. If you feel the same way, you should know that Princeton Human Services is about to kick off “Welcoming Week” to celebrate people of all backgrounds who are eager to come together to find their place in our community.

So let’s get ready to express our unique expression of American hospitality to the newcomers among us. It’s a critical time for all of us to show the world that our community wants to be welcoming to everyone. Consider these timely words of author Jacob Needleman, “America is not a tribal, ethnic or racial identity. It is a philosophical identity composed of ideas of freedom, liberty, independent thought, independent conscience, self-reliance, hard work, justice.”

Steve Drake

Tenacre: A Ministry of Christian Scientists