One of the best parts of living in a small town has got to be the ease to get involved in everything. I’m a service-driven kind of gal, it’s totally my love language. Getting involved and helping our community is so important to me as a hobby, but also as a mom trying to raise my babies into the young men I hope that they become!
While it may be more difficult to get involved in a larger community, I’ve learned great tips and tricks on how to get your hands into everything:
1. Research Online: Step one is definitely checking Google for programs that already exist in your community. Our own community has a website with volunteer information already provided for the nursing home, the county park, the park and rec board, the school, the church, and even community garden and farmers markets. Finding these websites and doing the research to track down the right person to get in touch with narrows down your time wandering around and asking everyone how to get involved!
2. Reach Out: After you locate the contact person and information, you need to reach out to them. Be it e-mail or a phone call, if they had resources online, they usually have a system in place for getting new volunteers up and running! If they didn’t have an online resource, reaching out the organization directly would be your next logical step. The person you would want to contact would be an outreach coordinator or the actual head or director to point you in the right direction. If you are hoping to help a small organization who doesn’t have many resources, it’s fairly safe to assume that they’d welcome your help, even in a less-formal way.
3. Make Your Abilities Known: Regardless of any fillable form or what you think an organization might need help with, listing all of your abilities will benefit BOTH of you! For example, I recently reached out to our local county park in hopes of showing my toddlers the value of giving back to a place that we love to visit and enjoy. I contacted them with the intention of helping pull weeds with the boys or doing some planting. Once I revealed all of my abilities with them, it was clear that I would be an asset on the technical side of things instead of physically getting out there once or twice (which I still hope to do). In the end, this organization that my family thoroughly enjoys was in deep need of anyone who understood website, social media, and graphic design, and I was able to fill that void for them! (check out their new Instagram here!)
4. Make Your Own Opportunities: In some cases, there may not be an actual organization or program for you to work with. But, don’t let that stop you! If you have an idea or a way to help your community, I encourage you to think creatively to make it happen! My husband is big on fireworks for the 4th of July, and we live in the center of town. On one of our first 4th’s in our home, my husband and friend put on some private fireworks in the corn field behind our house. By the end of the display, we had neighbors in lawn chairs watching with us! This got my husband thinking, and after contacting multiple different local organizations, boards, and the town hall, he managed to start our town’s legitimate fireworks show hosted at the park. The show has now grown to involve the town’s bar hosting a beer tent, live music, and all collaborated with the existing 4th of July day events of a parade, chicken dinner, and silent auction. It’s so cool to know that because he was passionate about something, it’s now an actual event in our town that draws in a crowd!
There are my 4 tips for getting started in your community. I hope it inspired you to follow your passion and bring it to your neighbors! Do you have a cool story to share about a way you’ve enriched your community? Please share!