By Kathryn Horner, Board Member
What might it mean to ‘hold space’?
I think the first question to answer is what is it we may be holding space for.
We might hold space for a number of reasons.
Here are a few.
- We hold space for ourselves. As individuals, we need to sustain a space that allows us to feel what is happening around us. We all experience some trauma in our lives where this space is held open to aid in our healing and growing from such experiences. We also all experience interactions of love and to fully and freely embrace such a gift from others it is incumbent upon each of us to hold a space. I believe it is in this way we can then give this experience back to others let alone the very people that gave us such a gift in the first place.
- We hold space to help us understand the indifferences that may arise between us. Not everyone will freely / fully care for who we are or what we may represent. Holding a space for these situations allows us to learn that our way is not the only way and may not be the best way.
- We hold space for the differences between us. Culturally, religiously, spiritually, ethnically, financially, morally and the list goes on as to how we are different from each other. If we hold a space for those differences between us, and there always will be differences, we can sustain a greater level of peace / understanding toward such differences. When we agree to disagree it is in holding a space that we nurture this agreement. It is in this way we grow toward acceptance and therefore learn about other.
If you take this concept to the level of what non-profits have to offer people / groups that may not only be different but sometimes indifferent, holding a space becomes imperative to that organizations success. People can be resistant to getting help from others. To those needing help, pride might be the issue or the desire to receive that quick fix to whatever they might need help with. Asking for help is hard enough sometimes but if non-profits are resistant to holding a space to those requiring aid, resistance by both those asking for aid and those in a position to offer aid are likely to experience resistance. Again, holding a space is vital at these times.
No matter the need for assistance, I believe those of us at the helm of aiding those in need are most successful when we hold a space for others needs verses our expectations. The non-profits that are most successful in answering the call of those in need begin their work by holding a space so that they can best understand the needs of others. Individually and collectively, Mercey Springs Foundation has strived to hold a space to other organizations so that we might bridge a gap between them. It is through these efforts that we succeed in aiding other organizations to feel they are not alone in this business of bringing aid to our community.