Giving back to your local community is something that can add lots of purpose and meaning to your life — helping others feels deeply fulfilling and satisfying and will guarantee that you’re staying connected to the people around you. There are many ways to positively impact your local community — which means that you can always find something that suits your sensitivity, skills and the amount of time and energy you wish to spend. Below, you can find Teresa Wolande’s tips and ideas on things you can do for your local community.
1. Reach out to people who might be lonely and isolated
Befriending people who feel lonely and isolated will probably not cost you a lot of efforts but might mean the world to them. Older people are more at risk of feeling lonely and isolated, and especially if their families live far away and are rarely visiting, if their social circle is not very big, and if they have health problems that limit their ability to go out and visit others.
You could propose to read a book or the daily newspaper to someone who is having problems with their eyesight, or also offer a ride to the local clinic whenever necessary.
2. Support local businesses
Local businesses are under lots of pressure from big corporations, and they sometimes struggle to keep their place in a global economy that is changing at a rapid pace. Buying locally instead of ordering online, and visiting local specialized shops, bookstores, and bakeries might require some additional effort at times, but you’re certainly making a difference with how you spend your money, Teresa Wolande says.
Buying locally grown produce, and meat and dairy from local farms is not only a way to support your local community — it’s also better for the environment. The food has travelled a much smaller distance this way. Additionally, you could always go to local farms and buy products from them directly, establishing human contact and buying the freshest products that you could find.
3. Volunteer at a local organization
Many non-profit organizations operate locally, and the impact they have on local communities can be profound — but often they lack resources or manpower to achieve what they really strive for. Volunteering at such an organization and helping them out with tasks that you’re good at can make a huge change — especially if you can help spread the word. Managing volunteers is not an easy task, so offer to help with things that you are already proficient at and that you can do independently.
4. Spend time with the animals at a local shelter
Shelters’ staff members are usually overwhelmed with work, which sometimes means that the animals don’t get enough human contact and interaction. If you’re an animal person but cannot adopt a cat or a dog at the moment (or already have), you could simply go and spend time with the animals at a local shelter, or ask the staff about things you could help them with. They’ll appreciate it — and the animals will, too.
5. Help your neighbors
Helping your neighbors with a paint job, or gardening with them, or driving a someone to the hospital if necessary, or offering help in the case of a storm or another natural disaster are all ways to connect with your community and show that you care. Teresa Wolande explains that giving back to your neighbors when they are struggling generally leads to them being more inclined to help you in the future if you need anything.
6. Collect trash when hiking
If you love nature and like to spend time outdoors, consider bringing a trash bag with you on your next hike, and collecting the trash you see on your way. Some hiking trails can get very busy at certain times of the year, which means that trash tends to accumulate — sadly, not everyone is familiar with the “leave no trace” principle, according to Teresa Wolande. Bring friends along for an even more fun and rewarding hike.
Helping others and making positive changes in a way that impacts your local community is in line with our deep need for meaning and purpose. Humans are first and foremost social creatures, which means that helping others is not only hugely beneficial for your local community but is something that will help you feel complete and give you purpose — especially if you have lots of free time. And even if you don’t, there are still plenty of ways to help.