5 Easy Ways You Can Help Improve Your Community

One person CAN make a difference. These simple ideas won’t cost a great deal of money or time, but they will bring huge rewards. Try one today: Vote, venture out, visit, vitalize or volunteer. It’s easier than it seems. Take the first step, and the rest will follow.

1. Participate in local government. - VOTE

Don’t just vote in the big elections; vote in all the local ones, too. Vote for school board members, county commissioners, city councils, and any other elected officials. Take the time to find out when elections will be held. Offer your services as a guide or polling worker. Visit the websites of candidates. Find out where they stand, and what they stand for. Then, make time to go to the polls and cast an informed ballot. Believe it or not, it will make a difference.

FIRST STEP: Visit http://www.vote411.org/home.php to register, find polling locations, and view ballots for all US states.

2. Support local events. - VENTURE OUT

Find out what’s going on in your community, and go. Attend community theater productions. Listen to concerts in the park. Visit the library or museums regularly. Read their bulletin boards. Look for local events like book clubs, craft shows, family activities, and seasonal reading programs. Make time to attend one. Bring children or friends. Shop at the local farmer’s market, or indoor vendor’s mall. Along the way, say hello and stop to talk to the people you meet. Spending time and attention is just as important as spending money.

FIRST STEP: Take time to read the community bulletin board on the next trip to the local grocery store, library, or market. Visit http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/ to find a farmer’s market near any US city.

3. Be a good neighbor. - VISIT

Get to know the people who live nearby. Start a pleasant conversation. Encourage others to do the same. One small start can have a ripple effect, widening throughout the whole community. Offer to help the elderly members of the neighborhood. Bring in their daily newspaper, shovel walks, or help clean up the yard. Let them know that someone is keeping an eye on them. Consider planning a barbecue or cookout, or a children’s play date. Organize a neighborhood watch or group yard sale.

FIRST STEP: Visit or chat with a neighbor today. Ask how they are doing, and really listen to the answer. Find out more about strengthening neighborhoods at: http://www.neighborhoodlink.com/article/Crime/Neighborhood_Watch_How_To_Start

4. Improve the landscape. -VITALIZE

Plant a small patch of wildflowers in any portion of the yard. Wildflowers are easy to grow and take very little maintenance. They reduce the amount of fossil fuel used for lawn mowing. They look pretty and provide a great conversation piece. Share plants, flowers, and gardening tips with others. If there is no yard or garden area, focus on keeping the location clean. Sweep, pick up litter, and wash off graffiti or grime. Take pride in the local area by helping to make it look nice. Help others who may be struggling by offering fix-up services. Repair sagging fences, mailboxes, and other publicly visible items.

FIRST STEP: Pick up one piece of litter. That’s all. Just one. This is so easy to do, yet so few people do it. If everyone did this every day, imagine the difference this would make. Visit http://www.kab.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Focus_litter_prevention#STOP for actual statistics about littering behavior.

5. Fill a need in the community. –VOLUNTEER

Every community has unmet needs. Discover them. Read to children at the local library. Sign up for meals on wheels, hospital service, or mentoring opportunities. The best way to begin is to take stock of what is already easy. Crocheting a hobby? Make blankets, mittens, or scarves to donate. Good at giving advice? Become a Big Brother or Sister. Enjoy pets? Animal shelters always need helpers. Love to read? Libraries need help with annual book sales. Enjoy the outdoors? Do something with the local parks.

FIRST STEP: Take a few minutes to think about personal strengths or assets. Then, see how those can be put to service locally. Search for opportunities on the web or in the local newspaper. Take stock and find matching opportunities at http://www.volunteermatch.org/

Every day is another opportunity. Every community began somewhere. Start today. Start now. Vote. Venture out. Visit. Vitalize. Volunteer. The results could be surprising.

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Comments

  1. Charity does start at home and within our own communities. We can NOT rely on the government to make our communities better. Congress is busy arguing over their own kickbacks and our kids are being shortchanged!!!

  2. Mal Milligan says:

    So many Americans look for the handout. They learn to live by the handouts eventually and never feel they should lift a finger to pay it back. Remember “I had NO RESPECT for this country until the day my husband ran for office!”? I do. The 2 times I've been to Arlington National Cemetery were both special. The first time I was 15 and the Cemetary just closed. It was Christmas week 1975 and the Vietnam War had just ended a few months earlier. I was 14. My father was supposed to pick me up at closing time but he was in a car accident and teh Metro Cops called the Cemetery and told them that there would be 3 boys waiting there and the Dad would be there – just late. So the security guards told us to go up the hill and watch the changing of the Guard. The Cemetery was closed and it was so cold… about 15 degrees. We got up there and of course the place was deserted except for the 3 Unknowns (at the time) and the Guards, and 3 fourteen year old boys wearing Don Bosco Prep High School Sports jackets. The air just stopped and snow began to fall. I remember it was so errily quiet that we could hear the snow falling and it seemed loud. And we watched the Changing of the Guard in total silence… and it was a magic moment that I will always remember. I served as an Enlisted man in the US Naval Submarine Service 6 years later, and I've tried to do things like this article mentioned ever since. You know helping our country and our community takes action, and it can be as simple as just voting. The next time I was in Arlington I was with my 2 children and I am so proud of them and so proud of my country. Sure we have a million problems that need to be fixed, but I'll always keep trying to improve the community and the country and the world for that matter. Regards -

  3. I find this article to be very helpful. I am so sick of political bashing that leads to no change. We are all required to stop the bitching and complaining and start being agents of change, Kudos to the author for recognizing the needs of our citizens to get out there and get active!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The importance of voting seems less and less since our country is overrun with people who cannot vote. We are continually supporting illegal immigrants in this country and the voting power we citizens once had seems like a waste when essentially its these immigrants who have all the power. Pay no taxes, still use our schools and our hospitals. As for venturing out, well what can I venture out to that isn't run by an illegal mexican? ven if he is not in the show he is selling or cleaning some where… What this country needs is a policy like Arizona so that we can only have citizens here. Once we have those citizens we can then talk about what makes a difference… to OUR people.

  5. Chet Gadhiya says:

    If people want to make a change
    in their local governments, they have to start participating in their communities. My former boss, Ed, has an autistic son, and finding a good school for him was extremely difficult.
    Ed was determined to get him the proper education and decided to move to a very nice neighborhood known for its strong education system. He began to participate in the local government. After a year of volunteering, he is now one of the city's councilman where he can directly play a role in determining his child's future. There are a lot of great minds with many talents in every city. Sadly, not many of them know what's going on in their home towns. It's very easy to point fingers and call out the faults, but real change happens from within. We can all learn something from my former boss.

  6. Excellent suggestions! All too often people complain about what is going on in their local community, state or at the federal level, however, they do nothing about it! It is important to be aware of what is going on, how you can make a difference and to stay informed!

  7. SystemicRisk says:

    One of my friends smoked a cigarette and then tossed it in the street. I asked him why he littered and he told me that it didn't matter because the street cleaner would come through and clean it up. This kid was an economics-finance major and somehow still did not see this as an inefficient allocation of resources. If we simply would spend the infinitesimal amount of energy necessary to throw that piece of trash in a garbage can, maybe we wouldn't need street cleaners. Maybe we could allocate those resources (the money spent on the street cleaning vehicle, the government worker's salary, and the time of the government worker) to better uses in which there aren't such simple solutions for. Maybe those resources could go to eliminating illiteracy or developing infrastructure. The possibilities are as endless as our own creativity.

  8. SystemicRisk says:

    One of my friends smoked a cigarette and then tossed it in the street. I asked him why he littered and he told me that it didn't matter because the street cleaner would come through and clean it up. This kid was an economics-finance major and somehow still did not see this as an inefficient allocation of resources. If we simply would spend the infinitesimal amount of energy necessary to throw that piece of trash in a garbage can, maybe we wouldn't need street cleaners. Maybe we could allocate those resources (the money spent on the street cleaning vehicle, the government worker's salary, and the time of the government worker) to better uses in which there aren't such simple solutions for. Maybe those resources could go to eliminating illiteracy or developing infrastructure. The possibilities are as endless as our own creativity.

  9. SystemicRisk says:

    One of my friends smoked a cigarette and then tossed it in the street. I asked him why he littered and he told me that it didn't matter because the street cleaner would come through and clean it up. This kid was an economics-finance major and somehow still did not see this as an inefficient allocation of resources. If we simply would spend the infinitesimal amount of energy necessary to throw that piece of trash in a garbage can, maybe we wouldn't need street cleaners. Maybe we could allocate those resources (the money spent on the street cleaning vehicle, the government worker's salary, and the time of the government worker) to better uses in which there aren't such simple solutions for. Maybe those resources could go to eliminating illiteracy or developing infrastructure. The possibilities are as endless as our own creativity.

  10. SystemicRisk says:

    One of my friends smoked a cigarette and then tossed it in the street. I asked him why he littered and he told me that it didn't matter because the street cleaner would come through and clean it up. This kid was an economics-finance major and somehow still did not see this as an inefficient allocation of resources. If we simply would spend the infinitesimal amount of energy necessary to throw that piece of trash in a garbage can, maybe we wouldn't need street cleaners. Maybe we could allocate those resources (the money spent on the street cleaning vehicle, the government worker's salary, and the time of the government worker) to better uses in which there aren't such simple solutions for. Maybe those resources could go to eliminating illiteracy or developing infrastructure. The possibilities are as endless as our own creativity.

  11. SystemicRisk says:

    One of my friends smoked a cigarette and then tossed it in the street. I asked him why he littered and he told me that it didn't matter because the street cleaner would come through and clean it up. This kid was an economics-finance major and somehow still did not see this as an inefficient allocation of resources. If we simply would spend the infinitesimal amount of energy necessary to throw that piece of trash in a garbage can, maybe we wouldn't need street cleaners. Maybe we could allocate those resources (the money spent on the street cleaning vehicle, the government worker's salary, and the time of the government worker) to better uses in which there aren't such simple solutions for. Maybe those resources could go to eliminating illiteracy or developing infrastructure. The possibilities are as endless as our own creativity.

  12. SystemicRisk says:

    One of my friends smoked a cigarette and then tossed it in the street. I asked him why he littered and he told me that it didn't matter because the street cleaner would come through and clean it up. This kid was an economics-finance major and somehow still did not see this as an inefficient allocation of resources. If we simply would spend the infinitesimal amount of energy necessary to throw that piece of trash in a garbage can, maybe we wouldn't need street cleaners. Maybe we could allocate those resources (the money spent on the street cleaning vehicle, the government worker's salary, and the time of the government worker) to better uses in which there aren't such simple solutions for. Maybe those resources could go to eliminating illiteracy or developing infrastructure. The possibilities are as endless as our own creativity.

  13. Excellent article! If we all do our part in our community and include our children, it would make a huge difference. The morale of this country is so low, the younger generation are not getting the proper direction and guidance at home and at schools anymore. The quality of television (& commercials) and the movies are so trashy that the young people are guided by these shows and think its the right way of life to be so selfish, superficial, greedy and lazy!

  14. What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for reminding all of us that there are things that we can do within our own communities. If everyone would just do one of these things our communities, it's residents and our children would greatly benefit.

  15. I think that one of the biggest things that you can do for your community is to get involved in the politics of the community. I feel that so many people complain about local goings on. Whether it has to do with a new strip mall being built or a raise in taxes people have an opinion. It is important that people remember that in order for their voices to be heard they have to be involved. If you do not choose to be involved then you have no place to complain.

  16. I think that while it is nice that this friend has been involved he has to look at the benefits for the community as a whole and not just for his son. When local officials begin to only focus on their needs and not the needs of the community is when communities become divided.

  17. The contents of this article are so important. It should be shared nationwide. People today forget that there is a community in which they should be involved. We all have busy lives making it hard to get out there and help. Of every person within each community would just take one day a month the community would be stronger than ever before.

  18. I read this article and immediately thought of all that my daughter’s Girl Scout troop does in order to help our communities. The girls are so driven by helping the people in our community that they are booked just about every weekend. Community service is important and I only hope that the girls grow up feeling as if scouting has instilled that belief in them. I printed a copy of this post for each of them. I think that they will see how they really are impacting their community and all who live there.

  19. I think that my favorite way to support our community is to take advantage of local events. Our town has concerts on the lawn each week from July-Sept., they do family movie nights, Easter Egg hunts, a holiday party, and so much more. The best part is that these events are at no cost to our family. The kids love them and they think that we have gone above and beyond time and time again! I highly suggest attending as many of these events as you can.

  20. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. It is so wonderful that you were able to provide people the first step that they can take in order to be a better member of their community. It is like having the idiot’s guide to how to make your community a better place. All of the advice in here is so informational.

  21. This is a great list. I would like to see more children and schools become involved in their community. Learning to be a good neighbor and help one another is a vital lesson to what makes us all a functional community. I think that once a year all grades need to plan and implement a community project.

  22. Where are all of the people who actually do these things? So many people are too busy with their own lives right now to donate their time. I wish that people would feel less stressed so that we could all be better to one another.

  23. Why is that we feel we need to be told before taking action? Were you people not in scouting? This is all knowledge that should have been taught to us as children. With the economy still on the fritz it is more important now than ever that we do for our community.

  24. Do you know how many of your neighbors did not eat dinner tonight? Do you know how many children are hungry all summer long because they do not have free school lunch? Do you know how many people littered in your home town today? Get out there and HELP. That is what makes people so special.

  25. you have brought up a valid point. I think that we all close our doors in the evening and try and leave the hustle and bustle of the outside world out there. I know that many people are struggling and they are doing so in complete silence because they are embarrassed. Now is the time to come together as a community to assure that we all make it through these trying times.

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