Reflection and resilience: A new year for our community

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What an overwhelming year. We’ve weathered enough happenings in the past twelve months to last a lifetime. As we continue to check in with our members, we’re hearing from so many who are worn out and stretched thin. We hear you and are here for you.

You know what else has been overwhelming? The outpouring of strength, kindness and generosity people in our community have shown toward one another. Through wildfires and the pandemic, through social unrest and political turmoil, we’ve witnessed time and again as our neighbors put aside their differences and band together to support each other through these difficult times.

Recent events have cast a spotlight on the areas of our society that desperately need healing. They’ve also highlighted a simple truth: Strong communities enrich lives.

Even if we can’t solve all the world’s big problems right now, what we can do is continue strengthening our foundation from the ground up. The stronger and more sustainable our roots are, the more we can all thrive. And the best way to build up those roots is to invest in each other.

How do we do that? By supporting small local businesses. By bolstering nonprofit organizations. By embracing the cooperative model and putting our time, energy and money into democratic, member-owned co-ops that exist to serve us—not shareholders in another time zone.

As our president and CEO Ron Neumann said, “Cooperatives are a reflection of those they serve. While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of all communities.”

Even though we may feel exhausted, we still have a lot of work ahead of us. Much healing and recovery remains to be done. By shouldering the unknown together, we can make it more bearable for everyone. We all have something valuable to offer in this work, and even a small effort from each individual can make a big difference to our community as a whole.

Here are three ways we can all help build up our community’s resilience:

1. Encourage each other to persevere.

There have been times throughout this pandemic when we’ve all felt close to our breaking point. We hope each and every one of you has discovered a greater capacity to endure than you ever thought possible. If the road ahead is long—our tenacity is what will carry us through. So let’s lift each other up and help propel each other forward. Your simple words of encouragement mean more than you realize.

2. Perform small acts of service.

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s easy to forget to be of service to each other. Service is an essential part of our humanity. It gives our lives meaning and strengthens our social bonds. It doesn’t matter how you choose to do it; service isn’t an action so much as a mindset. When you make it a habit to look for ways to serve others, you’ll start finding opportunities everywhere. You’ll be amazed at how little effort it takes—and how much you’ll get back.

3. Grow your heart just a little more.

Big hearts inspire big change. When you give to someone else, you not only increase your own capacity for empathy and kindness, but you also increase theirs. We witnessed just how big-hearted our members are when you helped us raise more than $240,000 for our Fire Relief Fund last year. Let’s keep that momentum going. How much can we raise together in 2021? How much can we expand our hearts?

At OCCU, these are the values we live by. In the coming year, we’ll continue to serve and support you by expanding our presence throughout our communities, eliminating and reducing fees to help relieve some of your financial pressures, and building partnerships with other organizations to lift up those in need.

Thank you for being a member of our community. We’re hopeful for what the year 2021 will bring and look forward to being there for you.