Getting involved in your surrounding community is not just beneficial to the well-being of society, but it also benefits YOU as an individual.
Through community involvement, you:
- Gain stronger relationships with your peers
- Have a part in meaningful and positive change around you
- Are a part of something bigger than yourself
Communities rely heavily on the contributions of its members, whether that be volunteering, donation, or work. It can be not only hard to find time to dedicate your resources to the community, but an area in which you’d like to do so! Whether you are an experienced charity organizer or a beginner volunteer, you have a desire to raise your children to be kind, giving, and selfless with their activism.
There are many ways to encourage involvement, even if your family seems to be unwilling or uninterested at first.
Here are a few ways to get the whole family involved:
Find an area of activism the whole family is passionate about
Whether it is climate change, education, equality for all, fighting pollution, homelessness, or racial justice, these societal issues are unfortunately impacting families across the country in every type of community. Start by asking your family what they might be interested in. You could start by providing your children with broader examples, such as “pollution” and go on to create a continuing list of areas of family interest. Then, you can search through Facebook groups, your local newspaper, or even your county’s website page to find local volunteer organizations that are both active and family-friendly.
Without empathy, there is a lack of “why” in engaging in community involvement. Consistently showing and modeling how to care for others can exemplify what this looks like to children. For example, taking the time to respond to your child with kindness and patience can teach a child how those qualities of others makes them feel in return.
Start small and get bigger with time
You and your family can start by helping a neighbor in a time of need. This can look like mowing a lawn or baking cookies with your children and sitting together with an elderly neighbor within your community. It does not have to look like a massive leap at first and even the smallest kind acts can have the biggest impact for others!
Discuss global and national issues and work towards solving them locally
Children are likely already learning about global issues that are impacting communities around the world and wondering how they can help. Use this as an opportunity to hear their thoughts and provide your honest opinions, this open dialogue is great to have with your child when they struggle to understand complex or even disheartening issues. Mold the conversation into how they can then connect it back to your family’s community. Invite your children to come up with solutions to these issues at a local level, whether that be improving the school lunch or finding ways to reuse and recycle at their school!
Start a local “arts and crafts night” for the neighborhood youth
A wonderful way to get involved in the community is to organize a neighborhood arts and crafts night for the communities’ children! Not only will this be a terrific opportunity for them to make friends and socialize with other children, but they will also create pieces of art that can be gifted to retirement homes, homeless shelters, firehouses, animal shelters, and more!
Finding or creating a local charity event
When creating or finding a charity event to attend, it is important first to find one that falls into an area that your family is passionate about. Whether it be a fundraiser for a local park or providing resources for individuals without a home in your community, involve your children in the event planning and organization and involve their classmates, as well.
Organize a “Spring Cleaning Day”
Take a weekend to go through your home and find toys, clothes, books, and more that your family no longer uses. Instruct everyone to bring all their unwanted items outside and put them out on the curb for others to go through, or collect to drop off at a shelter nearby. You could take old towels to your local animal shelter, women’s clothes to a women’s shelter, and so on. Not only will it help clean up your home, but this is also a fantastic way to teach children how to give back and not accumulate things.
Reflect on the feelings that arise after community involvement
Take the time to discuss as a family how volunteering makes each member of the family feel. Does it make you happy? Sad? Grateful? A perfect time to celebrate what the family accomplished together is over the ride home or dinner that night. It will also provide the perfect opportunity to discuss future involvement within the community and which issues to tackle next.
The benefits of family involvement within your community is so important. It teaches children to think beyond themselves, exposes them briefly to global issues, helps develop their problem-solving skillset, and can help to teach responsibility and accountability on an individual level.
In time, children will begin to understand that each small act of kindness within a community creates a space that is a kinder and gentler place to live in for all families.