Most of us know deep down inside that we want to make a positive impact on this world. The challenge is actually making it happen! Between work, family responsibilities, and the rest of life, there just never seems to be enough time. Even if we could carve out some time, what would we do? Where do we begin? How can one person really make a difference?
Here are ten great ideas to help you get started in your quest to make a difference!
1. Look for Volunteer Opportunities in Your Neighborhood. Most cities and towns have many volunteer agencies that are eager to get some extra help. Check out your local community centers for organizations that are seeking volunteers. Pay attention next time you pass by bulletin boards. Search online for local possibilities. (This site is a great place to start: http://www.idealist.org/)
2. Visit Local Nursing Homes. There are many senior citizens who would love nothing more than a friendly visit or chat from a local community member. It’s amazing what a big difference a five or ten minute conversation can make to an older person who might be feeling lonely. Extra bonus: you’ll probably walk out having learned something yourself!
3. Raise Environmental Consciousness. Are you the kind of person who cares about the environment? Create an eco-friendly neighborhood by letting people know about the importance of protecting our planet. Teach people to reduce, reuse, and recycle, by starting a campaign in your community to raise awareness. Lobby your local governmental representatives to make recycling more available and more convenient. And of course, be sure you yourself are doing all YOU can to protect planet Earth!
4. Use Social Media: Social media is a powerful tool for spreading the word about all sorts of important initiatives. Make sure you leverage your online network of friends to get the word out! Did you hear about a cause that speaks to you? Did you just read an article about a fundraising campaign for a charity that you are interested in? Let all your friends know, and help get more people involved.
5. Volunteer at the Hospital. Many hospitals have volunteer programs designed to get local residents involved. You can help out by visiting patients, or doing administrative work. Hospitals are huge institutions, and they could always use an extra pair of hands.
6. Serve Food at a Homeless Shelter. Millions of people are in need of basic daily food and shelter. By helping distribute food at a shelter, you are ensuring that your fellow citizens are being provided with their most essential needs on a daily basis.
7. Consult with Your Local City Council. There may be a need for volunteers on the governmental level, people who can help plan and run community events and programming. By fulfilling your civic duty, you’ll be making a difference for the whole neighborhood!
8. Help Out at an Animal Shelter. Are you an animal lover? Chances are your local animal shelter could use a hand in one way or another. Taking care of animals is a very meaningful way to reconnect with the life around us and to provide care to creatures in need.
9. Clean Up Your Neighborhood. Want to make a tangible difference within one hour? Spend some time with friends at a local park simply cleaning up trash. You can transform a public area from an unwelcoming dump, into a warm and inviting public area for you and your neighbors to enjoy!
10. Start Small! No one can change the world over night. You’ve got to give it a least a couple of days! Seriously though, sometimes we avoid getting involved because we doubt the impact that our actions can make on the world. But the truth is that by starting small, by impacting the people and neighborhoods around us, we make a huge difference to those people and to those neighborhoods! And who knows where it will go from there?
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