The importance of community

November 1, 2022

By Jeff Becraft


In the last month, we have had 3 different family members get covid… in Maryland, South Carolina, and New Jersey. And if you throw in a few weeks before that, you can include more family members in North Carolina.  I had covid way back in January.

Now there are some horrendous family stories out there about the effects of covid. This article won’t reach to that level… but it will point to something that can be devastating as well.

One of the most difficult things about having covid is the isolation. Being cut off from everyone else.

In our society, however, there are all kinds of people who are dealing with isolation on a regular basis. Over the last 7 months, I have learned a lot about mental illness and probably the most devastating effect of mental illness is isolation.

The feeling of not measuring up, of not being wanted, looked down on, misunderstood, stigma… and maybe one of the worst of all – not being needed.

Any person… including a person with mental illness… is a person. And they deserve to be treated as a person. As Dr. Debra Bjork, founder of Our Place of Hope (where I am currently serving as Interim Director) points out, people need something beyond medication and clinical treatment. Those things serve a purpose… but they are not the end all.

People need community.

A person dealing with a mental illness has the same needs as anyone else. The need for purpose, meaning, and hope. They need to feel needed.

Imagine for any of us… imagine feeling unwanted or not being needed at work… or at home… or anywhere else. What would that do to our morale?

I have a great doctor. I told him he couldn’t retire until I died. He thought I was joking. I have a great endocrinologist. They have changed my life by getting me on an insulin pump and they have been so encouraging and supportive. If I stop taking insulin, I will die. My doctors serve a very important role in my life. But they are not my community. I see them and then I go home.

But what does a person with mental illness go home to – isolation? depression? stigma? feeling unwanted?

They need to be seen as people and treated as people.

There are people all around us, whether they are dealing with a mental illness or not. We used to emphasize in Youth Corps, “You don’t know what’s going on in the life of the person right next to you. You could be the difference by reaching out to them.”

Today is a great day to lift up somebody’s life around you!


Jeff Becraft is the Interim Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].