/ Everyone has gifts

11/20/16 walk

After a somewhat downer week with all the not nice things that have been happening as a result of the Presidential election my spirits were down but once again my spirits were lifted oh so very much as a result of our walk this past Sunday! As per Chief Butlers commitment for renewal walks in Latino neighborhoods we once again walked in a predominately Latino Longmont East side neighborhood. And Chief Mike Butler true to his cause of creating a “Belonging Revolution” once again made those Latinos that we met and talked to and who the majority had profound fears about what was going to happen to them, their sons, daughters, friends and relatives as a result of the Presidential Election to feel that it was going to be okay and the moments of good feeling with them allayed much of their fears and concerns were for the most part put to rest. And how heartening it was when we met and talked to Carlos and his wife Maria who recalled we had met his daughter and them before on one of our walks and who shared with us about his awesome Tomato garden and about their family and their feelings about what was happening in our Latino community

And Oh, how nice the two-young ladies who we met and shared with who after our talks and as we were continuing our walk we the three (me and them) of us gave somewhat of a high five and said in unison claro que juntos Si Se Puede! (clearly that together “Yes We Can”)

And what great vibes that Jan Jim and Liz, from Boulder County Care Connect (BCCC) and Anne and Jen who walked with us and gave and shared with those we met their smiles and hugs was ever so comforting and meaningful to those we met and talked to. Thank you, Jan, Jim Liz, Jen and Anne. for accompanying us on our walk you added such a caring, giving and feeling of “Belonging” to those we met,

Belonging” is where it’s at and Chief Butler’s “Belonging Revolution” is an absolute necessity to heal our wounds but more so to make our community an even more beautiful and caring community than it is now!


Mike's Perspective

We were honored to have people who represent the Boulder County Care and Connection and their friend join us on our Sunday walk. Jim, Jan, Liz, Jen and Anne made for quite an entourage. An obviously friendly group and we enjoyed their vitality!

The primary purpose of our Belonging Revolution has been to encourage people to feel and believe they belong to our community and to all of us. In our last two walks, we have observed that people we meet need to know they are psychologically, physically, emotionally and spiritually safe and a member of our community. 

To create the sense we are safe and among friends is more challenging now than in our previous walks. Dan and I have walked over 100 neighborhoods since July of 2014. Until now, we encountered very little sense of isolation and concerns about abandonment and apartness. Our stories are different now. 

We met Carlos and Maria. Carlos told us he and his wife are very concerned about their status in our country. They also know many people who are fearful about their futures. They've given our community the wonderful gifts of raising their family, feeding their friends and neighborhood from their beautiful garden and providing services for 32 years from a local nursery. They also provide free leaf cleaning services to their neighborhood. They have gifted our community for many years and yet are now worried about what will happen next. They deserve our support and our humanity. 

Maria and her friend Maria and Tomas were somewhat emotional in describing their recent experience with family and friends. They spoke of many they know who are living in fear. Maria has four beautiful children and is concerned about their future. 

Arturo initially seemed reluctant to talk with us. He could not look us in the eyes. He also told us of many he knows who are living in fear right now. Arturo loosened up us our conversation ensued and accepted our invitation to become more involved in our community. 

Juan could not stop expressing his appreciation for our Belonging Revolution. Again, he also knows of many who are concerned about what is going to happen. Juan loves his neighborhood! 

All of the above people are Latino. Dan and I are now walking neighborhoods that are predominantly Latino. Their perspectives are tinged with hopelessness. It's sad to see. We did meet a delightful woman named Carol. She was in the process of moving to Elizabeth, Colorado to join her family. Carol invited us into her house and proudly showed us her art. She was somewhat sad to leave Longmont and told us several times that Longmont "sure treats their seniors well!'

So here is where Dan and I stand. We believe a citizen is one who participates in democracy regardless of their legal status. It is someone who chooses to create their life, their neighborhood and our world from their own gifts and the gifts of others. Those we met Sunday are full participants in what is necessary for a democracy to work. They are major contributors to their neighborhoods, our community, and our democracy even though some do not enjoy the legal status of citizenship.

The idea of community abundance is about our common interest and who will care for the whole. Our Belonging Revolution will do all we can to stand up for those who may not be able to stand up for themselves. The essence of community is to create mechanisms and structures for belonging and Dan and I will continue to invite everyone we meet, notwithstanding their status, to become part of our community and to help build our social, emotional, physical and spiritual fabric! We believe our invitations are strong antidotes to the divisiveness, abandonment, and isolation that exists and could emerge! We would challenge anyone reading this to consider making genuine invitations to those who are marginalized - in any way. Invitations change our relationships with those we invite for we come to them as an equal. Oh, the radical and healing aspects of invitations!  We want each person to feel and believe they belong to our community. Everyone has gifts to offer the rest of us and that needs to be our focus! 


Jan Berg, Board Chair
Boulder County CareConnect

Sunday I spent time with two incredible individuals, Dan Benavidez and Mike
Butler, as we walked a Latino neighborhood and engaged in conversation with
a number of the individuals living there.  They were very open and honest
when speaking with Dan and Mike about their concerns for the future and I
sensed a feeling of comfort from them as Mike reassured them that they were
supported andimportant to the Longmont community. Even though they are
afraid, if not for themselves, for other relatives and friends, they now
know they have a resource they can reach out to for assistance.  
This was also an excellent opportunity for Boulder County CareConnect
www.careconnectbc.org to let them know about the services we offer for
seniors at no cost.

A heartwarming and very meaningful day for me. Thank you for letting me be a part of it along with another board member and two friends. Jan Berg

Liz Cleveland, BCCC Board member

What a wonderful and meaningful way to spend a Sunday morning!  I greatly appreciate you providing this opportunity for me to join you in this community outreach.  It is quite evident that that the residents of that neighborhood were very receptive to you and Mike and, you were able to connect with them on a personal level. This is not something we see in our day to day lives very often.

Thank you again. Respectfully; Liz Cleveland


 Jim Rianoshek, Executive Director BCCC

Thank you for the invitation to walk, Dan.  I was honored to walk with you and Mike and friends.  My takeaways include:

1.       Mike and you putting it all out there, letting community members know what you will do if deportation becomes reality.  In short Longmont will stand for its community members

2.       I was reminded if you want to truly get to know someone, all one needs to do is be truly interested in them, their story, their worries, hopes and circumstances.  Herein lies true connection

3.       I recognized similarities in my relative’s and other nationalities’ assimilation, including being scared, feeling alone, being poor, singled out and plowing forward in the face of circumstances.

4.       Longmont is an American success story all can be proud of. I am in awe!

Congrats and thank you Mike and Dan for helping make this happen. -- Jim