One thing we know to be true is that life constantly presents challenges, some far more emotionally painful and complex than others. All of us who call Boston home have had to confront that reality repeatedly over the last year. As we approach the first anniversary of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon Finishing Line last year, I believe it is important to look back and understand how we have come together as a community to navigate the horror to find strength and room for the possibility of embracing another day.

Tragically, the devastating fire last week in Back Bay Boston forced us once again to feel pain and ask questions that have no answers. There are times that questions, “like why or why those two heroic firefighters?”, simply do not offer answers that satisfy. Boston as a community has shown that by coming together with belief, support, presence, understanding, caring, and emotionally open voices we can more positively move forward each day. Boston saluted our fallen firefighters this week with history steeped with dignity and solemnity.

We are hearing many stories of runners determined to complete this year’s marathon with increased purpose to show support and recovery. What stand out in both these examples are “Vitamin C”, a term Dr. Edward Hallowell uses to describe the scientifically researched power of “Connection.” As Dr. Hallowell shared when he opened our 20th Anniversary Alvin Hollis Speaker series, connection is free, abundantly available and enables us to build relationships that are vital to well being and resilience.

This month marks the true 20th Anniversary for Youth Health Connection. We will mark the moment with a gathering focusing on “Gratitude”. The esteemed Liz Walker will grace the evening with her spiritual understanding of how gratitude, purpose, and connection give us strength. YHC has continued to grow in scope and mission because people work together, develop strong relationships, break through the silence to open dialog and build coalitions addressing critical community issues. The goal has been to build a program that believes that by helping youth, families and communities be safe, strong and resilient we reduce risk. As Medical Director of YHC I am humbled that our work shows us what science tells us is true.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of the YHC community. YHC is yours. You drive it forward. You make it responsive, organic and community based. Stop for a moment, breathe deeply and give yourself a tap on your back knowing you are making a difference. Together we can be strong.