Reflecting on the True Meaning of Community

November 30, 2020

by Caroline Moassessi, FAACT Vice President Community Relations

Unprecedented times. School closures. Racism, the election, and unemployment were all words propelled at lightning speed into our daily conversations during 2020. To say these have been tumultuous times is an understatement. I feel as if I still do not have a full emotional and intellectual grasp of what has and is taking place. But there is one thing I know for sure. The food allergy community showed up. 

This community showed up authentically and in full force. When someone was down, a hand miraculously reached out of nowhere. Safe foods magically appeared on doorsteps and in mailboxes from friends who never met in person. Calls for prayers and support on the internet were met with hug emojis and well wishes for not-so-strange strangers. 

People exchanged texts and private messages across the globe, as stories of frustration and comfort were shared. As grief filled our hearts, our community sent healing thoughts from afar. Masks were sewn and shipped as community members sourced safe ingredients for others. 

Many of our beloved allergy-friendly food companies showed up, as well. One company created a direct-to-consumer website so families who could not find their products in local stores could order online. Several others started offering ingredients and products in bulk to consumers.

Mental health and self-care moved from our lives' back burner to the front and center of our ability to thrive. FAACT quickly expanded its Behavioral Health Resource Center and offered Facebook LIVE events, podcasts, articles, and blogs as experts detailed methods for managing these stressful times. How to support our teens, children, and families during the COVID-19 pandemic became critical topics to our daily existence. 

I received the gift of hosting the FAACT Roundtable Podcast this year. These podcasts became my lifeline to discovering the resilience and hope my children and family had living inside. I learned how to hold meaningful family meetings and how to effectively check-in and support my family. I embraced how to check in with myself and that turning off my phone for my morning routine was not being selfish, but was essential to fueling my soul and heart to start another day in a very changing world.

Our FAACT team navigated how to have uncomfortable conversations as we continue to work daily on anti-racism and bias, equity, inclusion, and belonging. We gained an understanding of the importance of truly listening. We learned it was okay not to be okay and that we had each other to lean on.

I am not sure where 2021 will take us, but I know each day is a step in the right direction. Every day brings us closer to a vaccination, better treatments, more knowledge, and an understanding how to live during the pandemic. One thing I know for sure, as the sun rises each day, our food allergy community shows up with unconditional love and support for each. For this, I am eternally grateful.

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We wish everyone a safe, healthy, and Happy Holiday Season and Happy New Year!