Each One Can
Westford is a peaceable and safe community built on respect, caring, and responsibility for ourselves and for each other. Neighbors are connected, isolation is rare, and residents in Westford’s neighborhoods share a sense of safety, interdependence, and community.
A Pew Internet research study undertaken in June 2010 found that only 24% of Americans knew their neighbors’ names. Other research shows that in communities like Westford where many homes are separated by fairly large tracts of land, isolation can be a critical factor in neighborhood safety, as there may be no one in sight or hearing to respond to a call for help. No matter how close together homes are situated, neighbors are often strangers, with each family busily absorbed in its own activities. This social isolation often prevents people from reaching out for help, and developing the kind of ‘neighborly’ relationships that build community and make a neighborhood feel safe and supportive for its residents. And yet from experience we know that communities truly are the sum of their neighborly connections – every small act of thoughtfulness and kindness really counts.
Westford Connects is a volunteer community effort whose goal is to develop creative strategies to connect homes within neighborhoods, and to connect neighborhoods with each other. The focus of Westford Connects is on building these networks of community in respectful, meaningful and sustainable ways: person-to-person and home-to-home within Westford’s geographic neighborhoods. This project is an on-going long-term effort, essential to the well-being of all residents – and especially the most vulnerable – in the town of Westford.
What struck me about Mister Rogers was his neighborliness. He interacted with other individuals whom he introduced as his neighbors. They cordially greeted each other and they treated each other with real dignity. He demonstrated a genuine concern for how they were doing and a curiosity about their work and the circumstances of their lives. He invited them into his home. And when he needed help, or his neighbor needed help, they would just ask for it. Watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood made me long for something better than what I had. I wanted to live in such a place. A place where my neighbor would know me and I would know him. A place where the postman would talk to me. A place where people worked different jobs and were appreciated for how they contributed. A place so safe, so happy, so overflowing with dignity and humanity. A place so good …
- Kevin McClain, staff member and student at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro