Everyone seems a little more relaxed during the summer months, and for most people, it’s the season to work a little less and have a little more fun. But while everyone is vacationing and relaxing at the local pool, let us give you a little something to think about.
What if you took just a few hours of those summer vacation hours to volunteer in your community? What if a few hours of your time could really make a difference in your life and those around you? Think about it.
There are dozens of reason why getting involved in your community is important but we’ll sum it up to this: it’s good for you and it’s really good for those around you. And since most people agree but have no idea where to start, here’s a jump start and 7 great ideas on how to get involved (and make a difference!) in your community.
- Tutor A Kid
Even though school is officially out, lots of kids will be suffering through summer school or homework assist programs. Do them (and yourself) a favor and help them out. It’s amazing what an impact you can make in just a few hours! Call your local school to find out when and how you can get involved.
- Attend Community Meetings
While the idea of attending a community meeting might sound about as entertaining as a dentist appointment, they can actually be really great. You meet people who live around you, which comes in handy if you’re one of the many people who complain that your friends live too far away to hang out on a regular basis. Moreover, you really become familiar with what’s happening in your neighborhood and more than likely, you’ll gain a real sense of ownership of where you live. The more this happens, the better!
- Clean Up
Picking up trash might not sound too appealing, but there are hundreds of parks and playgrounds around that could use some TLC. Often times starting or joining a clean-up project can really transform a neighborhood, especially if you’re creating a place for kids to play or people to gather. If you have a place in mind, make sure you reach out to the administrator before you make any changes. If you want some ideas, call your local parks department for locations that could use your help.
- Get Disaster Relief Certified
Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes or a tragic plane accident, it seems like there’s no shortages of disasters nowadays. And the American Red Cross needs your help! Their disaster relief team responds to nearly 70,000 disasters every year, and 90% of those workers are volunteers. Being a part of the team doesn’t necessarily mean suiting up and putting yourself at risk. Volunteers do everything from managing other volunteers to giving presentations on how to be prepared if an unfortunate event does occur. You can visit http://www.redcross.org/support/volunteer/opportunities#step1 to see what’s needed in your area.
- Serve at a Food Bank
Chances are, there is a local food bank within 20 minutes of where you live, and chances are even higher that they could use your help. Local food banks are some of the most important charities around town and usually most dependent upon volunteers and donations. Volunteering could come in many forms. You could help cook, serve the food, wash dishes or maybe just visit with some of the patrons.
- Start A Club or Team
If you’re complaining that there’s “not a ______ in my area,” take the initiative and start one yourself. There are probably at least a few others thinking the same thing. Whether it’s a sports team or interest group (like a book club or crafting night), your neighbors will appreciate someone stepping up and taking leadership of the group. Spent some time perusing Facebook to see if there are any local pages/groups and see if anything similar exists. If not, go for it!
- Serve the Elderly
Elderly people are the backbone of the community but unfortunately, often the ones most looked over. It’s hard to imagine men and women in their 80’s and 90’s being in a nursing home with no family or friends to visit, but it happens. Contact some nursing homes or assisted living facilities in the area and see if there is someone there who could use a little of your time and attention. It’s amazing how much a short conversation or a game of checkers could make in their day!
Getting involved in your community isn’t hard and with a little time, you can make a big difference. And the best part? Volunteering is addicting and contagious, so once you start, you will probably want to keep doing it…and so will those around you!