There is an epidemic of loneliness in the US. The Surgeon General issued an advisory calling attention to a public health crisis of not only loneliness, but isolation and a lack of connection in our country. This can lead to mental health challenges with risk for premature death comparable to smoking daily! We bring this up because health is arguably, if not easily, much more important than wealth. Afterall, an old adage that I believe in goes like this: a healthy man has a thousand dreams while a sick man has but one.
So, what are we doing to build connectivity in our lives? Depending on your personality, where you live, and how you live, it may in fact be difficult to find companionship and interpersonal connections. That said, it is so important to try to stay connected and thwart a sense of loneliness and isolation. Studies of Blue Zones – places around the world that statistically produce more centenarians – show that purpose in life and social connection are two of the most important elements for living longer and healthier lives.
That brings us to the concept of community. I think about community a lot. What it means is up for some interpretation, but I see community as a place of belonging and shared values. It is not a code word for homogeneity where everyone thinks or looks the same. Instead, it is a place where people can share space, come together, and interact with others.
When we founded OnTrack Wealth Management, we debated for several months on the subject of having a bricks and mortar office. We started our business in 2020 in the thick of a worldwide pandemic; at the time it seemed smart to be a virtual organization that can connect with people anywhere, anytime. And yes, community can be created virtually! However, we decided that community also needed to be face-to-face. With that in mind we bought a former dental office, gutted it, and purposefully re-built our space with a strong sense of collaboration and community in mind.
A couple of months ago, we met with a friend – a successful individual and family man who saw an opportunity to do something meaningful. His mission: help children with different learning abilities find educational and social support within Catholic schools. Thus was the beginning of the St. Margaret of Castello Granting Fund to support K-12 special education in Michigan Catholic Schools.
This past week it was our honor to host, at our office, a community of people so that they could learn more about the St. Margaret of Castello fund. We shared food, drinks, and a discussion about the fund. We watched a video about a young man with Down syndrome and his classmates who attended a high school community that nurtured and supported his development as a person and a student. There were a few tears shed within our community that night. I am confident they were tears of inspiration, not sadness.
The event was a tremendous success. It was a great example of community taking place with amazing grace. We would not allow loneliness and isolation to metastasize in a community such as we were experiencing. We had purpose and meaning. Some might say it was God at work. If nothing else, it was community at work…