At a young age I can recall my parents leading by example and being involved in our community. Their expectation of my sister and I was to be involved as well. I vividly recall, spending hours in front of a local grocery store in below freezing temperatures while ringing bells for the Salvation Army, handing out candy canes and singing Christmas carols to the patrons entering and exiting the store.
At each New Year, the age appropriate activities slowly changed and increased in difficulty. This wasn’t only to be a part of our community but it was also a time for us to spend together as a family in creating lasting memories. Each activity, memory and experience assisted in my development and the reasons why I continue to be involved in my community…
- Making a Difference – Helping organizations that provide services to those in need and/or individuals or families, makes my community a better place.
- Satisfaction – Gives me the sense of satisfaction, that I have done something positive for someone else and they will likely express that positivity further in the community.
- Greater Sense of Belonging – Being involved gives me a sense that I am a part of something bigger than myself and my immediate family and friends. It helps me feel that I am a part of my community.
- Personal Development – Individual growth is important to me and I have benefited because of my involvement. Some examples of growth are; confidence, public speaking, additional leadership skills, discovering new and honing existing interests, and increased time management skills.
- Gratitude – I am able to express my gratitude for what I have received in the past from others who were involved in the community. It allows me to provide something of value to someone else.
- Networking – I have met and developed relationships with a wide variety of individuals. This has assisted me in many areas of my personal and professional life.
As an adult, I appreciate my parents instilling the value of community and the importance of being involved at a young age. At the time I may not have understood what or why we were involved but as I have matured I have come to understand and appreciate these values. I am a more rounded individual because of it.
Those teaching moments enhanced my development and continue to do so as an adult, while continuing to look for opportunities to make a difference in the community. I have continued these values and traditions on with my own son, continuing the lifecycle of giving. I believe that as much as you give your community, you will receive in return, two fold.