It's easy to feel disconnected, as many families juggle activity after activity and relationships are more often developing online and through technology rather than with neighbors. There are, however, simple ways to get involved and bring a community closer together. To start you off, here are five wonderful ways to stay involved in the community:
This may seem simple, but nevertheless, it is an important place to begin. Developing a sense of community takes time and dedication to become successful. Treat and investment in your community as strongly as you with any other relationship you have, and in time, you will reap the benefits that come with strong community involvement.
Take it to the next level: Start small by introducing yourself to a neighbor you haven’t met or help a neighbor with a small project. Even the smallest gestures can make a big impact on a neighbor and friend.
Volunteering is the best way to engage with your community and peers while doing some good locally. Find a cause and a demographic you want to advocate for in the neighborhood. Do some research and see if there are opportunities at the community center, hospital, women’s shelter, library, or food kitchen. It’s a way to introduce your kids to what the world has to offer, and it’s an excellent lesson in being a good citizen. Giving back to your community can mean the world to people you meet, and it can awaken a sense of purpose in you.
Take it to the next level: Create your own event or volunteer opportunity for things your community needs. Maybe it is organizing a book drive for local students, starting a small library on your block, or organizing a neighborhood garage sale at the end of summer. Perhaps it’s starting a community garden that everyone can benefit from. Take initiative, and be the change you want to see in your community.
Be a People Person
Get to know people you see every day. You are bound to see certain people on a regular basis, and whether it’s your barista, someone who travels your same bus route, or other runners on your path, wouldn’t it be nice to establish a relationship with them? Not only can this be a way of making new connections and feeling engaged in your neighborhood, but maybe you will also gain a new friendship.
Take it to the next level: Befriend neighborhood pets. Dogs tend to recognize people they see and like on a regular basis, so even if you are not a people person, you will have a friendly face waiting to greet you.
No matter what common interests you share, everyone can benefit from a clean, and safe neighborhood. Speak with neighbors or send out flyers to see if neighbors are interested in being involved. Organize clean-ups in your neighborhood or start an adopt-a-block system to keep your neighborhood clean. Set up a neighborhood crime watch to keep the neighborhood safe. A shared sense of pride in a community can bring neighbors together and keep everyone engaged and involved.
Take it to the next level: Establish a community board if there isn’t one in your neighborhood. A community board will be an excellent way to generate ideas and create social events like block parties, potlucks, and BBQs.
Establish Regular Social Gatherings
Establish a weekly or monthly occasion to socialize with friends and neighbors. It can be a bar trivia night, a Sunday potluck brunch or a game night hosted at home. Make a point to do this regularly because fostering bonds with friends and neighbors will not only keep you sane in a hectic world, it will help your emotional well-being to have strong relationships.
Take it to the next level: Imagine how you would feel if you engaged in healthy and active social gatherings. Organize a runners’ or hikers club. Find a Groupon event for yoga or swap healthy recipes. Who says socializing can’t be fun and healthy?