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Make a Difference Outside Your Door

You don’t have to run a multinational organization to make the world a better place. There are plenty of opportunities to create the good, right where you live.

Create your own opportunities

Take a good look around your neighborhood. Is there a lawn that needs to be mowed? A garage or mailbox that needs a fix? A house that needs repainting, or a tree that needs a trim? All of these observations are opportunities to make a difference using the skills you and other neighbors already possess. Get to know your neighbors and understand their unique skills. Then identify areas of need, and combine your efforts. For example, if an older neighbor’s home needs an exterior paint job, but you lack the necessary skills to do it alone, solicit the help of a handier neighbor and offer to do the planning and source the supplies.

Make a spur-of-the-moment impact

Making a difference can also be as simple as acting on an impulse. You’re putting the trash bins away and notice that your elderly neighbor’s bins could be retrieved as well. You’re out shoveling snow and remember that your next-door neighbor is on vacation and has no one to clear her drive. Perhaps another neighbor’s downspout has separated or is clogged with leaves and would otherwise leak along his home’s foundation. All of these are examples of ways you could make an immediate impact.

Reach out

While we all can go through bouts of loneliness, seniors can be particularly prone to social isolation. You, your family and friends can easily help those in your community fight through this by reaching out, engaging with them and making powerful social connections that add such fulfillment to all our lives

Plant a seed of inspiration

Next time you’re at the holiday block party, chatting with a neighbor while walking the dog, or discussing the local news with fellow parents as the kids play in the street, share a story of how you or someone else in the neighborhood is helping out. If it’s a small project or initiative you’re working on, gauge their interest in actively participating. You might be surprised by their willingness to help, and you’ll undoubtedly inspire them to do more of the same.

The best part of “street level” volunteering is that most of the activities won’t impact your schedule. You can even form a neighborhood support network with just a few hours invested per month. The more you volunteer on a local scale, the more easily you’ll integrate it with your normal lifestyle. Plus, you just might discover a new passion that guides your volunteer path and inspires you to make an even bigger difference.

There are so many ways to get involved – from organizing a food, book or coat drive for a local school or shelter to starting a community garden or even a walking group. So get out there and lend a hand. And check out our volunteer opportunity search function or browse our do-it-yourself project guides for even more ideas.

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