The power of community: Quiet victories and simple heroes

Rabbi Richard Address

I recently had the honor of being part of a discussion at a small conference in Chicago as part of an organization called C-CHANGE. It is devoted to exploring and developing teams of people that care for cancer patients and, by extension, their families. Dr. Elizabeth Clark, the co-chair of C-Change’s Workforce Initiative, closed the seminar by reminding those in attendance that there will not be enough people to take care of individuals who will be diagnosed with cancer in the next decades. She called again for increased communal support and collaboration to help meet this expected demand. This is very reminiscent of similar warnings from organizations like Alzheimer’s who also note that there are not enough care-givers even now to meet a growing reality.

Rabbi Richard AddressI mention this because I was struck with a recent situation. I was working with a family who modeled exactly what Dr. Clark was speaking about. In fact, we published Bill’s story here on

It was a story that sparked a lot of reaction. It was a story of how Bill chose to come home to live out his last weeks surrounded by his family and friends. It was also a story of how, in those last weeks, a real “team of caring” evolved. Doctors, social workers, hospice workers, long time friends, family and additional caring folks, most of whom were not caring professionals, all came together to bring support and love which carried this family through a difficult time.

I mention this because these were real heroes. The “team” worked. There was no real coordinator. There was just a sense that this was “right” and that no one would be allowed to be alone. We baby boomers are in the process of raising these issues of trying to reconcile a need for increased needs in a world of less resources. In fact, many feel that boomers are the driving force in this tension. Be that as it may, it is important to realize and understand that, as great as professionals are as care-givers (and they are), often, the real support and primal care-giving is done by friends and family, who, motivated out of love and concern, become real modern heroes. Thank you to them all.


Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min





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