Sometimes life challenges us to a long search before we find what we need, and sometimes it takes a while to make what we have found our own. This is especially important when we are creating a home. Home isn’t necessarily where we were born — home is anywhere we feel we belong. And where we live isn’t nearly as important as being with people who understand us. To belong and be understood is essential to our overall health and well-being.
On Friday, November 2nd, 2018, Friends After Diagnosis came home and opened its doors to this community with Friendship House at 3404 Aviation Boulevard in Vero Beach. The search for home has taken years of tremendous effort, patience, discernment, generosity, and commitment from a group of dedicated people who refused to give up until the right location was found. And once the location was found, there was the challenge of turning the inside into a welcoming place for addressing the needs of women with cancer. It all came together at the Open House on Friday.
An estimated 85 people came to christen and celebrate this new home for Friends After Diagnosis. Generosity was everywhere! It was seen in the number of people who kept arriving, and the food they brought that completely filled, to almost overflowing, a line of tables in the back of the big meeting room. The program began with a beautiful, heartfelt blessing of the space and a commitment to the well-being of women with cancer in our community. Dr. Shapiro gave of her time and energy by coming after office hours to speak to the group. The generosity of financial donors was acknowledged. A slide show highlighted the history of the organization: remembering those who have passed on, and featuring the many ways FAD offers support and friendship to women with cancer. The tradition of offering therapeutic programs free to cancer survivors will generously continue. Energy filled with kindness embraced the new home and everyone present. My husband and I left on an emotional high.
Home is often thought of as a welcome retreat – a place of acceptance and support. Home can also be a place where we have some of our toughest experiences and learn hard lessons. If we are open to what life is trying to teach us, we are open to the miracles and gifts tucked inside a difficult package. Cancer is one of those difficult packages, and one of the gifts is friendship. Wherever there is friendship, we feel like we belong. Friendship is an investment in our health because the presence of a friend calms and soothes us. Friends activate our sense of humor and playfulness; they increase our joy and diminish our sorrow. Multiple studies show that our social ties help lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Friendship House is about belonging and being understood. It’s about dignity, courage, and patience. It’s about hanging in there when life is difficult and slow. It’s about discovering possibilities and being who we are. Vernon Baker writes, “Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace.” We need safe places to laugh and cry, and we all hunger to belong. Friendship House speaks to the value and power of friendships and is a welcoming place when we need a companion by our side. At Friendship House we do real, we do hugs, we do honesty, we do support, and best of all we do together. Welcome home to Friendship House.
Until Next Time – Sylvia