Everyone should volunteer. I firmly believe this. Most people have plenty of excuses of why they don’t. “Not enough time” and being “too busy” top the list. We humans are great at filling our time. We schedule every second and overcommit ourselves.
But our communities, and the people in them, are the most important and valuable resource we have in life. If we don’t take care of our communities, what will become of us?
Whether you are a part of the 75% of people who don’t volunteer on a regular basis, (or that 25% who do) — why not consider all the small ways you can make a contribution to your community?
It’s the small acts that make a BIG difference towards building community.
Small acts look as simple as this…
- Picking up a piece of trash
- Walking your grocery cart back to the store or the designated shopping cart areas
- Cleaning up after your pet
- Shoveling your neighbors walk
- Smile at people
- Hold the door open for someone
- Stay off your phone while driving
- Let someone go in front of you at the grocery store (they have 2 things, you have 20 wink-wink)
The list could go and on.
The more people take care of the community they live in—by respecting property, acknowledging others, and building relationships—neighborhoods thrive. When neighborhoods thrive crime rates go down, student success rates go up, and an overall sense of belonging and safety come out of all this goodness.
What I love about all of this is that when people SEE YOU doing something, they are more likely to do it too! It creates a ripple effect and a chain reaction. You don’t have to see a chain to jump in, you can start it!
It sounds simple, because it is.
If, however, we get too busy to care, and think we are beyond taking that extra time, STOP. We can’t not care. If we don’t care things will fall apart. Think about it. In your closest relationships, if you stop caring, what happens? The same is true for our communities.
AND — I get it, we can’t be perfect EVERY time. There are plenty of times I could have been more present and thoughtful in my interactions. I kick myself sometimes when I didn’t let someone else go first, or why I didn’t run to open the door for someone who needed it. I’m not perfect nor am I asking anyone else to be.
WHAT I AM ASKING is that you put forth a GREAT EFFORT. That you give it a shot. That you do some small act that propels your community forward every week. Take just a minute to do something.
There’s a saying that says always leave something in the same condition that you found it, but I love a different version of that which is always leave a place BETTER than you found it.
If you live in Denver and want to get involved in an organization that helps communities improve their neighborhoods, check out Extreme Community Makeover. If you have an organization like this in your area, please post in the comments below. I’d love to know about it.
If you need more ideas on how to make a difference using small acts of service, check out my book Connected: 101 Ways to Be of Service and Create Community