Do you know what the following 10 activities represent?
1) Help lead a girl scout troop
3) Neighborhood Clean-ups
4) Church Groups
5) Snow shoveling for elderly neighbors
6) Visit nursing homes and/or hospitals
7) Raising money for a cause, i.e. winter coats, school supplies, etc.
8) Reading & Math Coaches for little kids
9) Food banks and soup kitchens
10) Neighborhood Community Centers
When I first began writing this blog post, I was really thinking, “Why are our (“our” meaning “black”) communities so dirty? Then, I thought back to my old neighborhood and could remember being able to distinguish whether it was summer time or the rest of the year according to the litter along my sidewalk. I began to ask myself, “why?” I also thought about some of the crimes that take place in our communities that only seem to hurt our communities. Then, it occurred to me that some of the reasons that this self-destructive behavior occurs because we aren’t invested in our communities.
By “invested”, I mean we haven’t contributed enough to our communities to a feel a loss when something goes wrong. It is easy to walk away from something if you haven’t given much to it. Think about it: when you’re dating somebody and things go sour in the beginning, it is much easier to tell him to kick rocks then as opposed to how you feel after you’ve been seeing him for a while. What do YOU care about?
I think the same thing is true in our communities. If you’ve never helped to pick up trash, it doesn’t bother you as much when you see people throw bottles out of their car windows. If you’ve never rallied against violence, you simply accept scattering like roaches when you hear shots ring out. If you didn’t study for the test, you shrug it off when you get the “F”.
I think we should challenge ourselves to give more and frequently compared to always looking for programs that enrich us. I don’t care how much you don’t have, I believe you have something to share. Last week, a homeless guy helped me parallel park! You can give something. Everybody has something of value to share. In fact, having something to contribute helps you feel empowered. Consider these Philadelphia volunteer activities:
- Volunteer Match: http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/index.jsp?r=msa&l=19525
- Teen Life: https://www.teenlife.com/pages/volunteer/
- Citywide Opportunities throughout Philly: http://volunteer.phila.gov/#s
- Philadelphia Zoo: http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Get-Involved/Volunteer.htm
- Free Library of Philadelphia: http://www.freelibrary.org/volserv/volserv.htm
Although volunteering creates a situation whereby you give to others, there are benefits of volunteering. The ones listed below are just a few of the personal gains you might experience from sharing your time and energy.
- Learn new stuff, increased overall awareness, skills that you could help you land a job
- Establish friendships
- New perspective on life
- Build a professional network
- Sense of personal fulfillment
- Contribute and add value to your community