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In a world of chaos, many sit back and spend a great deal of time criticizing leaders at all levels. They somehow feel that all change and improvements come from these leaders. However, it is up to you and me as citizens to help make positive and influential change.
The reality is, one of the best ways to do this is to take action. I know, you might ask, “how can what I'm able to do make any difference? ” To put it bluntly, it can. When we put others ahead of ourselves, we gain a greater appreciation for people in general. I would venture to say that at some point in all of our lives we have benefited from some type of community service effort.
We have an obligation as citizens to help others, and this help should come without any expectation of a return. I can promise you this: You will get something in return, including peace, joy, happiness and the feeling that you have done something good.
OK, so let us say you have made the decision to get up off the couch and are ready to go make a positive impact on your community. How does one go about doing this? Although there are hundreds of ways and organizations you can select, here are 10 ways to get involved in your community:
- Reach out to local/national non-profit organizations, such as United Way, Urban League, Red Cross, etc.
- Contact your local city offices to inquire about advisory committees that you might be able to serve on.
- When you go out to shovel the snow from your driveway, go ahead and take care of your neighbor's or as you rake your leaves, rake your neighbor's.
- Special events often are a great opportunity to volunteer. Keep informed by reviewing the community calendar in your area and then make it known you want to help.
- Help in the political process by getting others registered to vote or staffing a voting booth. Call your local elections offices to find out more.
- Many local religions have programs to help support the needy. Reach out and find out how you can be of service.
- Find out what local youth organizations are trying to make a positive difference and volunteer your time, talents and resources.
- A great way to get involved is to contact your local Rotary Club and find out what type of service projects are being undertaken. With a motto of “Service Above Self,” you can be sure to find some great opportunities.
- Contact your local food bank or soup kitchen and find out when you and your family can go help sort food.
- Call your local Boy Scouts or Girls Scout offices and extend a helping hand. Often the anticipation of actually going out and getting involved is much worse than the actual service you will provide. There seems to be a natural energy that comes as you extend your hand to help others.I have tried very hard to make community service a priority in my life. I find that doing so actually helps me in all aspects of my life as a husband, father, church leader and in my job. My family have taken the opportunity to help with my local Rotary Club Adopt-a-Way campaign. As we have done this as a family, we have strengthened our relationship. We also have gained new friends within the club. But best of all, we drive down that stretch of the road and see how clean it is, and there is a feeling of accomplishment. This is a simple example but can be applied to many opportunities to serve.
Getting involved in your community is all about action. If you want things to improve, then you must get involved. It is not enough to say you want to help, you must make it happen. When communities unite, amazing things can happen, lives can improve — both the lives of those who serve and of those who benefit from the service. The power of leading by example cannot go underestimated. There are numerous inspiring stories that show the influence giving of your time to help others can have.
Seth Saunders is branch president of the Pembroke Branch (Spanish) and a founding board member of the Pink Shoe Hero Foundation. Seth has been married 15 years to his amazing wife Amber and is the proud father of three wonderful sons.