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Even with the last March snowfall in our Carlisle community, we are confident that the sun will shine again, that the snow will melt and that winter will eventually end. We know the arrival of spring is inevitable and look forward to the change of season. We do not have to hope for spring because we know it always comes.

Such certainty is not available for far too many of our Carlisle residents. Food insecurity is a statement of reality for one in eight Americans. This statistic is markedly true in Carlisle and our surrounding communities.

How does it feel to be hungry? How does feel to be parents who face the daily challenge of feeding their children? How does it feel to not have access to nourishing foods, like fruits and vegetables? These are enduring questions for people in our community.

Likewise, can you imagine how it feels to be without shelter, a home or a safe place to be? How would it feel if you had no idea where you would sleep this evening, next week or the next month? How do our students feel knowing that when they leave school at the end of the day, they do not have a home to go to?

The homeless population that depends on Community Cares for emergency shelter and Safe Harbour for housing support are all too familiar with such circumstances.

Board members of our Carlisle community service organizations are often reminded that most of us are one incident away from experiencing such feelings and needing support. It could be the result of an accident, a medical condition, the loss of livelihood and employment, or other events beyond our control. Board members have personal and professional experiences with the hungry and homeless in Carlisle.

Regardless of the cause, our board and community members have embraced the moral obligation to care for others and meet them at their point of need.

As community members, we must have empathy — “to understand the feelings of others” — during their dark and cold seasons of life. Perhaps most important, we should be empathetic to understand the need for hope in distressing circumstances.

Accordingly, the mission statements of three organizations align their purpose with the needs of our fellow Carlisle residents.

Community Cares: “Serving and strengthening the community by providing emergency shelter, resources and supportive services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness.”

Safe Harbour: “[P]rovides housing and supportive services for homeless and nearly homeless individuals and families to help them achieve independent living by improving their basic life skills.”

Project SHARE: “In response to God’s call to love one another, and bolstered by the spirit of generosity in volunteers, staff, clients, gleaning partners and donors, Project SHARE food pantry programs and partnerships meet the evolving needs of people on their journey to freedom from want.”

For our community, the persistent question may be, “Will tomorrow be better than today?”

The vision of Project SHARE addresses this question head on. “Nourishing our Community ... Awakening Hope” requires us to act with our community partner organizations.

It is through action that we provide our fellow residents with evidence that their future has promise. The season will change, and spring will come.

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Retired Army Col. Charles D. Allen is a professor of leadership and cultural studies at the U.S. Army War College. He is also the vice chair of the Project SHARE board.

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