As citizens of our local communities, there are certain responsibilities that we are expected to uphold. Our basic duties include paying taxes on time, voting and serving on juries. These are the things that keep our cities, states and country functioning properly.
If we want to create communities that work for everyone, our actions must extend beyond fulfilling our basic duties. We must invest in our communities and become active participants in order for them to thrive.
In his book ‘You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen’, Eric Liu – CEO of Citizen University, asserts that we must reclaim our power as citizens. When we boldly take steps toward using our power for the greater good, our communities will thrive for generations to come.
You may be thinking, “What power do I have? I am not a politician or a wealthy donor.” Whether you’re a retail worker or a teacher, you have the resources to contribute something to your community. This could be time, ideas, skills, money or talent.
Ways You Can Make a Difference in Your Community
It isn’t uncommon to read stories about celebrities who publicize their larger-than-life charitable contributions. Donations of $1 million to schools and universities. Food drives during the holiday season that provide food for thousands of people. Back-to-school celebrations that give school supplies and haircuts to underserved children.
While these contributions are admirable, they can cause us to feel like we don’t have enough resources to make a difference in our communities. As a result, we put off making any type of contributions until our finances, careers or other areas of our lives improve.
The good news is you don’t have to be wealthy, famous or well-connected to be of service in your community. If you take inventory of your resources, there is something that you have that other people need. Here are 5 ways to get involved in your community.
1. Hold your local politicians accountable for their actions. Many of us focus on our national politicians such as the President, Vice President and Congress. But most of the decisions that affect us daily are made at the local level. This is what we can do to ensure that our local politicians are making decisions that benefit our communities.
- Attend civic meetings.
- Run for a local office.
- Write letters to local leaders.
- Monitor voting patterns of local politicians.
- Start a civic group or organization.
2. Clean up your neighborhood and community. Is there a littering problem in your neighborhood? Instead of complaining about it, start a community clean-up project. Ask your neighbors and local businesses to pitch in and help.
3. Become a disaster relief volunteer. Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can be devastating. It’s a good idea to be prepared if one of these disasters occur in your community. The American Red Cross offers disaster relief training for volunteers. Opportunities include disaster services, volunteer management, disaster action teams and public affairs.
4. Serve the elderly. As people get older, our society often forgets about them. Some elderly people outlive their family members. Others live in nursing homes without any one to visit them. These people could use some assistance during this stage of their lives. Here’s how you can help.
- Befriend an elderly person (or couple) and deliver meals to their home once a week.
- Call your elderly neighbors to check on them.
- Volunteer at a senior citizen center.
- Play chess, checkers or cards with an elderly neighbor.
- Celebrate your elderly friends on their birthdays and holidays.
5. Tutor and mentor children and young adults in your neighborhood. Children grow up to be adults who can have a positive or negative impact on our communities. That’s why we must nurture them and teach them the skills they need to become engaged community members. Devote a few hours a week to tutoring and mentoring children. Mentor young adults who are in college or just starting their careers. If you can’t mentor or tutor in person, set up a Zoom account and conduct virtual sessions.
As you can see, there is no shortage of things you can do to make your community a better place. Take a few moments to assess your unique skills and abilities. Then, find a way to become a man of action by getting involved in your community.
About Corporate Counsel Men of Color
Joining a professional organization such as Corporate Counsel Men of Color can help you connect with like-minded professionals. Want to learn more about Corporate Counsel Men of Color? Enroll in our organization today.
Ready to explore more ways to get involved in your community? Check out the following resources.
- Impact X: How to Transform Your Wisdom, Work, and Wealth into Meaningful Community Impact by Paksy Plackis-Cheng
- The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: Fully Integrating Online Involvement into Volunteer Involvement by Jayne Cravis and Susan Ellis
- Your Next 24 Hours: One Day of Kindness Can Change Everything by Hal Donaldson
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