Cultivating the Spirit of Community Engagement
A trait that sets successful business people like John Kleinheinz apart from many others is their desire to share their success with their local communities, national charities or causes that are important to them for personal or family reasons. This is an admirable quality, and although most of us will never be in the position to donate millions of dollars through our personal foundation, there are many ways that we can make a difference in the lives of the people in our communities. Many school programs have recognized the importance of encouraging a spirit of community service among our young people are making this a requirement for graduation. If you are a young person looking for a way to contribute, here are some of the ways to get started along the path of lifelong service to your community.
Approach the local community center
Many community centers will be very happy to put your time to excellent use. If you have a skill that you are willing to share, you may be able to lead a workshop or skills training session – for example, if you are on your high-school soccer team, perhaps you can support the center’s afterschool program with some skills drills for interested kids. You may also be able to help with basic administration, fund-raising activities, clean-up crews, or other related activities. Be aware that you may be required to undergo some sort of security screening if you will be spending time with children.
Approach the local senior residence
Consider offering your time to the local senior residence. Again, if you have a special skill you may find yourself in high demand to lead skills workshops. More likely, however, you will probably find that the most important thing you can do in a senior residence is to spend time with the residents, many of whom will be interested in a conversation with a new person. You could also spend some time organizing games or music appreciation sessions, or you may find that the staff could use an extra pair of hands behind the scenes, organizing family days, supporting book or technology drives, or any number of other things. If there is no residence in your neighborhood, look for programs like Meals on Wheels, or other support services – or, you may find a great deal of value and personal satisfaction in offering free dog walking, lawn mowing, or general errand running to an elderly neighbor. You many need to undergo some training or screening to work with this vulnerable community.
Animal shelter volunteers will always be welcome to help clean cages, feeding bowls, or tools and supplies. If you are lucky, your main job might be to show some love and attention to lonely animals or to help with their exercise.
These are just some of the ways that young people can contribute to their communities through volunteerism. Whether supporting children, seniors or animals, each of these options provides an opportunity to make a real difference in the community, and to lay the foundation for a lifelong commitment to sharing your time and energy with others.