“For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other” – Millard Fuller.
The feeling of belonging that comes from being part of a community, brings about a sense of security and a passion to do more for that group you feel strongly attached to. It is nice to be rooted in a community where you feel you can make a positive difference and contribute wholeheartedly, especially a community you grew up in, and share common values, beliefs and culture.
Irish political activist, George Bernard Shaw once said, “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”
This narrative can be taken up as your personal challenge to find ways through which you can give back to your community. You don’t need to do something heroic to leave a mark. Small sincere acts often make the biggest impact.
So, without further ado, here are some recommendations to get you started.
Supporting the local produce, handmade crafts, and the smaller businesses of your neighborhood especially in times of crisis, goes a long way. Supporting locally means that you are contributing to your community’s economy. As the saying goes – “what goes around, comes around.” So rest assured, if you ever set up shop, you would be surprised to notice your friends and neighbors among your first customers.
Volunteer your time, skills, and services. The possibilities are endless here. Somewhere in your community, someone needs help with chores or bookkeeping. The City may need an extra pair of hands to clean the local playground or repair the roof at the local shelter or to organize a charity event or fundraiser. If you have the necessary skills for the job, offer it up. After all, one of the best gifts anyone can share is their time.
You cannot claim to be part of a community if you’re never there. Community meetings are not just discussions about budgets and future development plans. They are also the perfect way of getting to know the people in your community. Attend community-organized events and be an active participant. Commit to being part of the community and an active one at that, not just a silent spectator.
Give what you can, financially or in any other way. Support a community cause or the painting of a new mural, donate blood at your local American Red Cross, donate seldom used clothes, books, toys and furniture. You can give anything you want as long as it comes from the heart.
Grab Every Opportunity for Positive Change
As cliché as it sounds, cast your vote during the local elections. Sure, voting for the president of the country and being involved in national politics is important but so is voting for officials of your local community. Local elected officials—mayors and city councilors, county supervisors and school board members — make decisions that profoundly affect the quality of life for their citizens. And yet, voter turnout at local elections happens to be much lower than that for national elections. So, vote! If you don’t, you also lose the right to complain.
Random Acts of Kindness
A little act of kindness goes a long way, so encourage everyone to be part of a community kindness project. Echoing RAKtivist, “Kindness is the social glue that connects individuals within a community – kindness is contagious!” Visit the elderly, help a child cross the street, serve at the homeless shelter or in the community kitchen or show the new neighbors around. You can show your kindness in so many ways and you’ll be amazed by the ripple effect it creates.
Community is about doing things together that creates a sense of belonging. Giving back to your community in your own unique way will help to foster that sense of camaraderie, harmony, and ownership in a community that you refer to as ‘home’ or ‘roots.’