Vision 2020: Valentine’s also a day for friendship, community

Published 8:04 am Sunday, February 14, 2016

By Greg Siems

Vision 2020 director

Valentine’s Day, like many holidays, has a longer and more complicated history than the greeting card industry might like us to believe.  It initially grew out of the commemoration of St. Valentine’s martyrdom, and it wasn’t until the likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare that the day became regularly associated with romantic love in the popular imagination.

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Even today, many countries around the world mark the 14th of February as a day to celebrate the coming of spring, or to appreciate all kinds of friendships and relationships, not just the lovey-dovey ones.  Here in the U.S., many kids across the country will give cards to all of their classmates, despite the potential risk of cooties.

I tend to like this more expansive view of Valentine’s Day.  Romantic love is definitely important and should always have a place in the tradition, but it also seems we shouldn’t miss a good opportunity to appreciate everyone in our lives that brings us joy.

You might be wondering how this all relates to Vision 2020.  As I write, the Community Pride and Spirit (CPS) committee is organizing a Valentine’s Day card drive that is bringing all different kinds of people together.  Children from Kids Corner and the YMCA have created homemade cards to distribute to senior citizens and law enforcement personnel.  By the time you read this, a great group of volunteers from Austin High School’s National Honor Society will have distributed over 200 cards and made connections with folks who often don’t get the thanks and appreciation they deserve for their past, present, and future contributions to the community.

This is not the first card drive the CPS committee has put together, and it represents only one great idea out of many to help express our gratitude.  When you think about it, gratitude is really what makes a good community go round.  We are all positively affected, consciously and unconsciously, by the actions of those around us – friends, relatives, even complete strangers.  Taking a moment to stop and be mindful of these relationships can give us the strength to get through the inevitable rough patches of life.  The steps we take to proactively thank and help those around us is what keeps the cycle going.

So, this Valentine’s Day, I and all of Vision 2020’s volunteers want to thank you for being a part of this great community we have here in Austin.  Whether you lend a hand at church, donate to a nonprofit, or volunteer your time to further a cause, you are helping to create the kind of place in which we all want to live.  Even if you just help out a neighbor here and there, or work really hard to support your family, that matters.  You matter.

If would like to get more directly involved in activities like the Valentine’s card drive, we would love to have you at Vision 2020.  Drop me a line at (507) 437-3448 or, and we can talk about where your passions and talents best fit on one of our 9 active committees.  I’ll look forward to hearing from you. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.