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Now is the Time to Help Yourself by Helping Others: 10 Ways to Serve Your Community

Performing community service is a worthy endeavor that brings people and communities closer together and improves the wellness of those volunteering their time and effort.

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

As we stand on the cusp of a new dawn of understanding, a new era of valuing one another, a new period of love and respect, let's make a pledge to help heal ourselves and those around us by committing to something larger than ourselves -- by committing to give back in whatever way we can.

A key component of wellness is embracing and celebrating that we are part of a larger community. Whether you see your community as your apartment building, your neighborhood, your town or city, your state, your country, or the entire world, it's now time to take a bigger role in that community's well being -- ensuring that the people in that community are loved, supported, valued.

We can all make a difference in changing and improving the lives of others -- while improving ourselves and serving as a role model for others. It's time to put the community back into community service.

How do you get started performing community service? Perhaps you have wanted to serve your community, but didn't know how to get started. Or maybe you thought community service was only for young people. Or just maybe you felt like you did not have the time to commit to serving.

The good news is there really is a plethora of opportunities to serve your community, from very small one-time gestures to massive efforts -- and you can decide how much and what type of service works best for you. So, here are 10 ideas to help you reach out to those in your community, and in doing so, improve your overall wellness and well-being. At the end of the article, you'll also find a few inspiration quotes about volunteering and community service.

Before jumping into your community service plan, remember to think about a few issues, such as how much time you have to commit, the skills you can provide, and the types of volunteering you most desire.

10 Ideas for Helping Your Community

Volunteer your time and effort with one or more of these community service ideas.

1. Reach out to a neighbor in need. Every neighborhood has people or families in need, from elderly or handicapped shut-ins to struggling single-parent households.

2. Perform an act of random kindness. Buy healthy snacks for your office or the teachers at your child's school. Pay the tolls for several people behind you. Give an umbrella to someone stuck in the pouring rain. Learn more ideas here: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

3. Mentor children at your local school. library, or neighborhood center. All organizations that deal with children need adults of any age to work with the children in a variety of ways, from after-school tutoring to recreational and sports activities.

4. Serve at a local soup kitchen or food bank. There is no greater gift than helping feed those in your community who are down on their luck and would go hungry if not for the service provided to them.

5. Donate blood. You can help save the life of one or more people simply by giving a pint of your blood at your local blood bank or during bloodmobile visits to your community, school, or office. (And if you can't give blood, help organize a blood drive for those you can donate!)

6. Volunteer at the local animal shelter, rescue group, or humane society. The animals are part of our communities too, and many of these shelters and rescue organizations need much help to achieve their missions.

7. Visit a volunteering-related Website to find multiple opportunities to serve. One of the greatest benefits of the Internet is the amount of Websites that can help connect people with local organizations that desperately need help. Find these volunteering sites on our sister site, QuintCareers.com: Volunteering and Nonprofit Resources.

8. Pick up trash along the road, at a local park, or along the banks of a river, stream, or lake. Many times there are organized efforts to clean some of these locations, but there is nothing stopping any of us from picking up litter when we see it. And smokers? Put the butt in the trash, not on the ground.

9. Help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Working with Habitat not only literally builds the community, but also helps welcome a needy family who would not have a home without the help from people in the community. No building skills are necessary to volunteer.

10. Contact your local United Way, Red Cross, or Salvation Army for discovering new service opportunities. These and other local aid organizations are clearinghouses for many opportunities to serve in your local community, making a difference in the lives of your neighbors.

Final Thoughts on Community Service

Helping people in your community makes that community stronger and healthier -- and makes you stronger and healthier in the process. Performing community service is a very worthy endeavor that helps bring neighbors and others together, helping us all see the bigger picture of life we often miss in living our daily lives.

Finally, an added benefit of volunteering is the new people you'll meet, the new connections you'll make. By helping better others, you may end up bettering yourself in ways you never imagined. You may also learn new skills and obtain additional training -- all of which could help you discover a new career or find a better job.

One other source for brainstorming ideas for community service: 366 Community Service Ideas.

Community Service and Volunteering Quotes

To keep you inspired, motivated, and involved, here are just a few inspiration quotes about volunteering and community service.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. --President Barack Obama

Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't even have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love... --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Living is the art of loving. Loving is the art of caring. Caring is the art of sharing. Sharing is the art of living. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. --Booker T. Washington

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. --Albert Schweitzer

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. --Herman Melville

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. --Aesop

After the verb "To Love"... "To Help" is the most beautiful verb in the world. --Bertha Von Suttner

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Avid bicyclist Dr. Randall S. Hansen Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., is an avid bicyclist, environmentalist, and student of wellness with a mission of empowering others to lead great lives. He is CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of Websites with varying missions of empowering people. He is the founder and caretaker of EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is also founder of Quintessential Careers, and founding partner of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He's often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com to learn more about Dr. Hansen or to contact him.


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