Six Easy Ways to be More Involved in Your Community
Guest blogger Dr. Sandra Madrid is the former Assistant Dean for Students and Community Development and most recently served as Senior Advisor to the Dean for the University of Washington School of Law. She serves on the United Way of King County board and is campaign co-chair this year. She also on the boards of YWCA of Seattle, King and Snohomish Counties, member of the Seattle Art Museum Educational Committee, Board of Advisors of The US-Mexico Chamber of Commerce NW Chapter and Seattle Children’s Hospital Diversity Committee.
We are so fortunate to live in King County! I was out at Day of Caring last week and was amazed at the energy, commitment and passion of volunteers. It is simply awesome to see so many familiar faces and to meet new folks all working towards the common good for all. My mom, 97 years old is still volunteering. I really think she has lived so long and healthy because of her commitment to her community and her volunteer service. My mom has no formal education. English is her second language. And she is an inspiration! She certainly ingrained in me the value of giving back.
I often get asked the question ‘How can I get involved in my community?’ And at the risk of sounding trite, my answer is ‘just do it’! We all need to be engaged in our community. Whether you’re a senior citizen, student or professional we have much to offer and it’s incumbent upon on us to give back.
There’s no better way to connect with others than putting yourself out there. Some things I recommend for getting involved:
Volunteer. Thanks to mom, this is in my DNA – and I definitely think you get more out of it than you give. United Way’s web site has so many volunteer choices, you’re bound to find something that works for you. Search by ZIP code, interest area, time commitment, etc.
Know your neighbors. When was the last time you slowed down that power walk pace and actually stopped to visit with a neighbor? Stop peeking at your watch – visit. Social interaction is good for all of us – you’ll meet interesting people and maybe even have someone to pick up your mail the next time you leave town.
Say yes to ‘let’s do lunch!’. So many nonprofits host fundraising luncheons this time of year. If a friend invites you, go! You’ll meet like-minded people and undoubtedly learn a thing or two about a community issue.
Go out of your way to be kind. Maybe it’s the Girl Scout in me, but sometimes it’s as easy as letting that person with one item go in front of you at the grocery store. Even if that gesture doesn’t lead to a conversation, you’ll feel better for having done a nice thing.
Introduce yourself. Seattle’s a perfect mix of big city and small town – there’s enough diversity here that groups of every kind are coming together in smaller settings. Spend a minute or two online looking for groups like this Latino Meetup site for something that works for you.
Gear up to be on a board. Have a voice in issues that are important to you. Project LEAD is a training program to help people of color connect to nonprofit board service.
Continue to enjoy the last remaining days of summer, give, volunteer and take action. Let’s all get UNITED in the fall to help those in need and those that can benefit from our volunteering. Our time and effort makes a huge difference in people’s lives.