Community Service Ideas
Keeping up with national and international politics is good, but it’s just as important to focus on the news closer to home. Every state, city, and town faces issues in need of attention. Here are a few guidelines to becoming more politically involved in your local community.
What issues and concerns affect your immediate vicinity? Some people remember a speech by the President but aren’t sure who serves on their city council. Getting involved in your community requires that you add your state legislature and city hall to your political perspective. Your local and state officials make important decisions about your water sources, the schools your kids attend, law enforcement, property taxes, and other issues that matter to you. Trash pick-up usually doesn’t make for eye-catching headlines, but you want those services to run smoothly.
As you begin to think local you may wonder about the issues that exist right outside your front door. Perhaps you’ve read some disturbing statistics in your area but aren’t sure where you can assist. A great way to figure out which issues impact your local community is to volunteer. Your local news source should list volunteer opportunities. Volunteermatch.org is one great resource online. You can also contact the United Way to find community service ideas in your area. Begin to interact with your fellow citizens, find out their concerns, and identify potential areas of improvement. Identifying areas of need offers you first-hand knowledge of the concerns of the local citizenry and allows you to make a difference.
Armed with knowledge about local issues, you may find an area of concern that isn’t thoroughly being addressed. For example, you might decide that local parks and playgrounds need more attention. You could connect with a grassroots organization, a political committee, or a local nonprofit that shares your concerns. Offer them your services and push their agenda. As an alternative, you could always start your own organization. You can be the one to plant a seed that grows into a local grassroots movement.
Speak Out and Spread the Word
No matter who you are or your position within the political arena, you do have a circle of influence. You have friends, family, colleagues, and classmates who are willing to listen to the causes and political concerns that are most important to you. So, don’t be afraid to share. You also have your pen or keyboard. Write your local and state representatives to voice your concerns. Attend local city council meetings to ask questions and share your ideas. Consider starting a blog or a creating a dedicated social media channel to highlight a particular area of political interest. You may find that your reach is far greater than you imagined.
Remain an Active Voter
Last but not least, being a registered and active voter is crucial for your local and state elections. Contact your local registrar of voters or board of elections if you have not registered to vote or to update your records if you have moved. Ask for dates of elections and candidate information so that you can research candidates and their positions. Try to vote in all elections, even the primaries. And consider offering a ride to others who would like to vote as well.
There are many ways to become involved in your local community, and these suggestions are just a starting point. Ultimately, it’s a personal journey to determine which issues matter the most to you and how you will make your concerns known. Use these tips and make change happen in your community.
Written by Shavonnie R. Carthens, JD
Shavonnie is an Assistant Professor in the ForbesTM School of Business at Ashford University.