Why Nicole, 25, ensured her community stayed strong during COVID-19

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Image: An illustration by Nicole during one of her online illustration tutorials for young people

One word: community. I have worked with large groups of people in every job I’ve pursued in my adult life, so community is a concept that is pretty familiar to me. But never have I been more conscious of the monumental impact of community than over the past two months.

During these unprecedented times, there is so much uncertainty arising in every aspect of my life and, as it seems, everyone else's, too. And whilst I consider myself a problem-solver of a human, news that I, along with over 5,000 staff at the Y, were sadly being stood down in March, left me asking more questions than I could soundly figure out the answers to.

Despite this, the one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted desperately to keep constant my connection to community.

The problem with this, though, was that my workplace crossed over with my volunteer space and my strongest friendship groups. So, I did the best thing I could think to do: put an action plan in place to ensure my community remained strong.

In my final two days of work before my stand down period began, myself and my colleague worked tirelessly to create a calendar of initiatives to run every weekday for three weeks straight, all events with very specific focuses on promoting connectedness, wellness and introspection for our volunteers.

Through developing these initiatives, my colleague and I came to a similar realisation; that regardless of whether we were working or not, the community we are a part of deserves to be nurtured wholeheartedly in every circumstance, regardless of how out-of-our-control circumstances may seem.

It has been so beautiful watching the young people get around the initiatives we created over the past week. We saw volunteers run a number of initiatives including cooking classes, self-discovery sessions, online gaming tournaments, breakfast clubs, and yoga classes. Now, as each week draws to a close, I have a number of volunteers who reach out, wanting to run new initiatives to contribute to their community even further and build on that point of connection.

I feel so grateful for the position I am in, working closely with volunteers whose nature it is to give, no matter what. There is so much uncertainty and uneasiness everywhere at the moment, but to know that my community cannot falter in the face of change brings me so much hope.

My spirit has been completely lifted, watching the impact that a point of connection can create for people and how this can cause a ripple effect on motivation and action.

The few things I have learnt over the past two months are simple but important:

  • If you create a space for kindness, people will flourish
  • No man is an island
  • Community is a spiritual space, not a physical space; and
  • Despite it all, community conquers all.

Whilst many questions still remain unanswered, the one thing I know for sure is that regardless of what happens to my community, it goes so much further beyond the space that created it in the first place; my community is sewn together by a large group of inspired young people who care more for each other, and regardless of the state of our programs, we will all carry on with what we have learnt through those programs to create that same sense of acceptance, care and hope in whatever space needs it most.

Written by Nicole Comelli, 25

Y-Solation is a series of Facebook livestreams by young people for young people during COVID-19. Join us every Friday for sessions on cooking, fitness, arts and crafts, music, trivia and more!

Be sure to check out our Keeping well during COVID-19 article a range of resources on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing, stay social, and keep fit and active during this period.