We all play a role in the community in which we live. That role could be a considerable one or a minor one; it’s up to each of us to decide. Serving our community is like most things in life – we get out what we put in. By taking an active part, you’re helping to progress your region and advance important initiatives to you personally.

Too often nowadays, it seems we’re hyper-focused on ourselves and in an echo chamber of our own making. We also tend to remain within a close-knit social circle of friends and family and rarely leave our “safe zone.” Finding ways to serve the community is a way to break out from these habits and provides us with an opportunity for inward and outward reflection. It also helps to keep us grounded by interacting with people from different socio-economic backgrounds.

Giving of yourself is beneficial in many ways. One that might surprise you is the health benefits. Those who volunteer tend to lead happier and healthier lives. The emotional benefits included lower stress levels, improved mood, and greater self-esteem, thanks to donating one’s time. Volunteering also gives us the chance to practice some character traits that serve us well throughout life, such as patience, empathy, and kindness. It’s also a great way to stay humble and practice gratitude for how fortunate you are in your own life.  

Not sure where to start? If you belong to a church, try asking your pastor. Ask friends and family, pose the question on social media, or do a google search for a cause or initiative that is meaningful for you. See what results come back within your region—homeless shelters, community centers, animal rights organizations, environmental cleanup, etc. There is an abundance of non-profit and religious organizations that need volunteers from the community to help out. You could also consider the YMCA, mentoring a child, and seasonal opportunities for toy or food drives.

Serving one’s community can also provide a sense of purpose. If you have a particular skill or talent, offer it to organizations in need and use it to benefit your community. On the flip side, if you lack experience, working with an organization on a pro bono basis is an excellent way to learn and hone new skills while making new contacts.

It’s up to each of us to help shape our community. The feeling of accomplishment and gratitude that comes from selflessly serving our community is a reward in and of itself. It may even become addicting! You’ll meet all sorts of new people, likely with shared interests and passions that you otherwise might not. You’ll also get to see the positive change that you’re affecting in your community. Seeing your work come to fruition and the difference it’s producing will have a lasting effect now and in the future.