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It feels good to be a part of a close-knit community. When you can wave at your neighbors, you know the name of the man at the grocery store, or you see the same person and dog walking on your block every morning, being a part of something like that is comforting.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way communities function over the last year. With guidelines about social distancing and staying at home, many communities have struggled to stay afloat, and there are things that need continued attention and support.
Now that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the virus, you might want to consider stepping out into your community and looking for different ways to get involved. Not only are there mental health benefits to volunteering, but you’ll benefit your community at the same time.
So, what can you do to get involved?
One of the easiest ways to get involved in your community is to volunteer. There are countless organizations across the country that are always looking for helpers. Even if you only want to do something on a short-term basis, consider looking for local events that might need people to help out with setting up.
If you want to do something that requires more of a commitment, reach out to local organizations. For example, your area pet shelter might need someone to walk dogs or clean cages. A nursing home in your community might benefit from someone who can come read to seniors or spend time with them. You might have to do a little digging, but there are always opportunities to help.
On the other hand, if you can’t seem to find any ways to get involved, create some! Consider hosting a food drive or clothing drive in your community. Or, put together a fundraiser for a local church, kids’ sports team, or any other organization or group that is struggling to get funding. Your idea could cause a chain reaction, getting others to give back or do more for the community, too! Or, your event might become an annual way to bring the community together for a good cause.
Giving back doesn’t just mean volunteering or donating. If you have work skills that you think could be used for the greater good, do your research! There may be some nonprofit organizations in your area that would greatly benefit from what you have to offer.
Some of the important soft skills required to work with a nonprofit include:
- The ability to collaborate with different groups of people
- A passion for mission-style work
If you already have hard skills in a certain profession, many of them can be easily transferable to a nonprofit. That includes skills in marketing, sales, and even accounting. Nonprofit groups are always looking for people who can work with a strict budget, communicate effectively, and pay close attention to detail.
While some national nonprofit agencies can offer handsome salaries, those on the local level may not get you a six-figure income. But, weighing out other rewards and the way you’ll feel knowing you’re doing something good can outweigh any kind of pay cut. So, if you’ve got the skills and you’re willing to step up to the plate, look for organizations that are making a difference and consider where you might fit in.
Needless to say, there are countless ways to volunteer your time and skills in your own backyard. But, that can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never gotten involved before. If you’re not sure where to start, think about your passions. What means the most to you, and who could use the most help in your community? Some groups that are always looking for help include:
- Homeless individuals
- Victims of domestic violence
- Orphaned children
If you want to dig a little deeper, consider trying something like working with your local juvenile justice center to mentor kids who have been in trouble with the law, especially when considering the current problems within this system. Some opportunities to give back can be heavier than others. But, if you feel one pulling at you, don’t ignore it.
It can be a good idea to get your whole family involved in your community engagement. It’s a fantastic way to teach your children how to give back and how to care for others. Those are skills they can carry with them throughout their lives to create a kinder, more compassionate future.
Giving back to your community in any way you can is important. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s the impact of togetherness and socializing. So, decide what’s important to you, and don’t be afraid to jump into community involvement right away. You’ll be glad you did.