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Thankful Thursday - The Best Community Support

It's 2020. The world is shut down. But I get an invitation to join an online creative group. It's compromised of a lot of people I already know and a few people I'm thrilled to meet. Plus, I get a chance to use a creative voice in a time where uncertainty rules everyone's life.

It's sponsored by The Paul Engle Association for Community Arts. We meet weekly via Zoom or Google Meet and share together our writing and other creative arts. Sometimes there's a prompt and sometimes there's just an online community to share our struggles of the week. We laugh. We cry. We become an online community sharing in the hardships and joys of the pandemic.

After things start to open up, this amazing community organization invites me and two other members of the online creativity group to participate in an artist talk at the Cedar Rapids Public Library called Women Who Write. For an hour on a Saturday afternoon in January, the three of us share our writing story.

While telling my story, my emotions take hold and I almost can't get it told at all. But this group is so supportive and encourages me to keep going—even though I can't choke back the tears. That afternoon they bring together a whole community of support for the three of us. And it is wonderful.

Now our group meets once a month for a coffee and writing chat. This past Saturday we met at one of my favorite eateries in Cedar Rapids, Groundswell Cafe. Our group sat around the Community Table and discussed our grandparents'

handwriting, the lost art of letter writing, and the determination of young children to dress themselves.

In a world where so often we can feel pulled down by others, this organization does the exact opposite. It helped me through the worst of the pandemic, our 2020 Derecho storm, and continues to find ways to support me as a creative individual. For that, I am thankful.

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