Be My Valentine

By Mary C. Frances, Senior Associate Consultant, FaithX

Valentine’s Day will be upon us very soon as all the emails in my inbox keep reminding me. Do I need to send flowers? Get a special card? Make dinner reservations? No thanks, I don’t need any of that. My parents had a Valentine’s Day tradition that my husband and I adopted early in our marriage. We use the same card every year! (Did you know that over 145 million cards will be sold for Valentin’s Day?) We add the date, maybe even a timely note, and leave the card out for the other to find. The next day we put them back in a drawer and that is about it. No big deal. We don’t buy into the Hallmark hype or support the floral industry. We know we love each other and don’t need a special day on the calendar to remind us.

I did, however, do a little research and it seems that the origins of Valentine’s Day are sketchy at best. Did it start with Cupid, the god of love? Or did St. Valentine have something to do with it? Was martyrdom part of it? Did Valentine die for love? Was there actually romantic love involved or was it more about caring for others? Unfortunately, we will never really know, and you can find all of those theses and more with just one quick google search. So, this research and resulting lack of clarity has made me think about adding a little something to our tradition. No, it’s not about jewelry, chocolate or a massage. I’ve been thinking about using Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate agape love, not just eros love – since maybe that is what it was about in the first place. Who in our community could use a little Valentine’s Day agape love?

Well, recently someone in our neighborhood was talking about paying it forward in the Starbucks line. Certainly, that’s a nice thing to do for someone. But then someone mentioned that there are children at the grade school whose cafeteria accounts are in arrears, and they can’t order food again until they get paid up. After that conversation, another neighbor called the school and paid all the kids’ cafeteria outstanding balances. I like that idea so much better than chocolate!

But the reality is that I only knew about that through a friendly neighborhood chat. It was random at best. Of course more intentional conversations could bring up the same kind of needs like the man who left money at the local pharmacy for people who needed help paying for medications or the need for socks and undies at the local shelter. Another good place to start is the Neighborhood Insight Report (NIR). The NIR is a snapshot of your community from population and generational information to poverty and food stamps information. You can find out how many kids are school age and where they go to school as well as how many people own their homes and how many rent. Risk factors and challenges for a community show up on the NIR as well as strengths. If you are thinking about a different kind of Valentine’s Day this year like we are, let FaithX help you figure out where to start!  Contact us at [email protected]