Won’t You Be My Neighbor

by Carrie Fraser, Director of Clinical Support Services of The Next Door

Mark 12: 30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Step 12:Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, the documentary about the life and ministry of Mister Rogers, please go see this movie. I would suggest grabbing some tissue along with your popcorn and snacks. True to his legacy the video clips and interviews with people bring us right to the heart of our feelings. This movie is a reminder of the importance of practicing compassion and kindness. Mister Rogers taught children and adults that it is healthy to talk about your feelings and that no matter what happens in life each and every person is special.

A friend of Mister Rogers said, “Fred was often known to say, ‘When something is mentionable, it is manageable.’ Talking about life’s disappointments and heartaches through with someone you trust is so very important. Finding your voice is essential.”

I think Mister Rogers would be pleased with how The Next Door honors this faith principle of loving your neighbor as yourself. In our residential program our women are assigned to a neighborhood which allows them to build community. When life has taught you that trusting leads to pain and suffering it is difficult to learn to trust. Being a part of a neighborhood helps our women begin to learn how to build community and support which is essential to a healthy recovery program. The women have a chance to share a neighborhood where they start the day with prayer and meditation, watch TV and play games together, rest and work on assignments, and end their day together with a gratitude circle. This is a foundational piece to learning that it’s healthy to share feelings and it’s ok to break away from the guilt and shame of addiction and learn to laugh again.

Our Freedom Recovery Community offers affordable housing for 21 women and their children, but it offers so much more. It offers a chance to build community and support with women who are striving to have healthier lives for themselves and their children. It provides the opportunity for women to build trust and community and pass these principles on to their children. The women can share in their daily struggles and celebrations with one another. They have a safe place for their children to live and play. Mister Rogers had wisdom about the importance of children’s play, “When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” These principles of loving your neighbor and building a safe and healthy community will change the lives of these children and generations to come.

Our weekly Aftercare program is another place where we can witness the power of community and the gift of loving your neighbor. The Next Door offers weekly aftercare where our alumni have the opportunity to give and receive support. Aftercare helps in building relationships within the community and with others on a similar journey. It is the bridge which helps our women keep hold of the things they’ve learned and gained as they embark upon a new way of living and also offer those gifts to the next woman they meet.

Thank you Mister Rogers for teaching generations on how to be good neighbors. Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and women who work hard every day to create a safe and healthy neighborhood at The Next Door. So, go see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and maybe take a moment to hum or sing along.

“So let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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