The southern girl in me loves a theme, especially ones that appear organically. Last week, nearly every meeting and event I attended or pushed on social media had one overarching theme: hope. Hope for people at their lowest, hope that we can help them reach higher, hope that we can help break the chains that members of our community seem wrapped in.

You’d think hope was something everyone has, this endless supply of optimism that things will always get better. I talk a lot about hope in the form of positivity, that if you maintain that a thing will happen, it will.

I can be positive about a lot of things because that’s a luxury I have. Positivity about life when the vast majority of your life has worked out in your favor IS a luxury, because what do you really know about struggles? What do you know about making the wrong choice once and having every choice afterwards go even worse? I can talk positivity all day because that’s all I’ve ever known.

Many of us think we can’t relate to the people who frequent the BoMar Club & Drop- In Center. We don’t really understand what Jason and Misty Adkins of Ravenswood’s Hope House went through. We empathize, but can’t begin to grasp the incidents that have lead to the creation of charities like Operation: Jackson County Veterans, or the GLOW Movement. The sadnesses, the tragedies, the choices, and feeling of being all alone in our struggles: those are passing feelings for most of us, not every day life.

But the people of our community who choose to address those feelings, who work every day to try and get the message out that no one who feels that way is alone, they get it. They’ve really been there. They’ve made those choices, and found a way to make better ones. They’ve pulled themselves off the ground, often by sheer will alone. They turned their sadness and hopelessness from weights that held them down into causes that help feed their soul, and by extension, aid those who need it.

They do it by always espousing one theme: there is hope. Hope isn’t a magic pill, but it is a spark. It’s the conduit to making change, the first step in a lot of steps. It starts very small, and to a person who has always had it in abundance, they aren’t going to understand why it seems to take someone who’s never had any to get to a place where they shine out hope like a disco ball, but that’s ok.

Hope, like most things, is personal. What brings you hope, how you keep it, and what inspires you to get more of it, those are all things you have to come to on your own; you just need those people in our community to start you on a good path, and to stand behind you as you find your own.

So give thanks this week to all the people in our community who found their own hope and are helping others find theirs, because “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing, and good things never die.”