A little girl drowned about a week ago near my weekend home. Sadly, her body has still not surfaced and the massive outpouring of help and support is the true meaning of community.

While most are motivated by closure for her family, different people show their support in distinct and individual ways. Some have used Facebook to organize search parties and to offer prayers and support to the family. Others volunteer to walk the beach or drive for miles on their ATVs looking for her. Some people bring the family food or offer help in other ways. Still others offer volunteers food and transportation. And, of course, the Coast Guard worked tirelessly to find little Sofia in the first intense hours after the tragedy.

The point is that when there is an authentic need, community forms naturally and organically. Word-of-mouth spreads rapidly and people step up to offer what they can: support, prayers, skills, and time. Total strangers stand-by family and friends to fulfill a mission.

This phenomenon extends beyond the short-term, intensity of a search for a missing child. No matter what the purpose, the dynamics of community are the same: people congregate and share support and information when united by a common need, interest or desire. You can not force a phony reason for caring or coming together as a community. The tenet in community initiatives is to first tap into an authentic reason to care and then use all the wonderful tools at our disposal to make it easy to share that interest or passion.

I almost drowned in this same lake several years ago. I still get the occasional flash back and only have the heroic actions of my then 12 year old nephew to thank for my life. As I join the community searching for Sofia, it is with a deep affinity for her family. I think of how my family would have been affected if my outcome had been different. Through the power of pictures and stories shared via social media, I feel as if I knew Sofia and will forever keep her in my heart.

Kathy Baughman
Kathy Baughman

Kathy’s forte is enterprise content strategy, content marketing and thought leadership. Over the past 40 years, she has worked with both emerging brands and large enterprises in developing content and thought leadership strategies. She has written several research reports, white papers and has been a key contributor to Forbes Publish or Perish Report.