Community service is a significant part of what makes a neighborhood feel like home to many people. The pandemic has exposed how vital it truly is that people build community spirit. Many elderly and sickly people would have had a lonesome time of it if communities had not found ways to come together safely and ensure that everyone had enough food, access to medication, and even entertainment during these long, harsh months. Now that restrictions are lifting, more able-bodied people can start taking on increasingly active community service tasks. But how does one decide where to start? What kind of activities can you or a group of you and your neighbors do?
The first step is to get together as many volunteers as you can. The more people you have, the more activities you can complete. Pool together your local community center’s resources and consider looking into electronic signage to send out calls for volunteers. Usually, these are reserved for retail companies. Still, organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have found that digital signage has helped inspire more people to get involved or at least show interest.
The second step is to start asking around. The best way to know what activities your community needs to build stronger relationships is to find what can help them the most. Peoples whose needs are being met are more likely to have the time and energy to participate in community-building activities. Make a list of projects that can help your neighborhood and conduct surveys to see which ones are most appealing to your community.
Groceries for Grannies
Get together a group of people and have them take turns buying groceries for the older people in your neighborhood. Whether vaccinated or not, the elderly are still at greater risk than the rest of us. By ensuring that they can safely receive their groceries, your group will be doing a much-needed service for the community.
Meals on Wheels
Alternatively, you can organize a team of home cooks and volunteer delivery people to prepare meals for the elderly and disabled people in your neighborhood. These people can prepare meals that meet the nutritional requirements of the people in need and ensure they receive them hot and fresh.
Sometimes, people need human interaction more than they need food. You can put together volunteer groups that take turns visiting home-bound people in your neighborhood. They can take books to read to them, toys to play with children, arrange sing-a-longs, or have fun putting together arts and crafts projects.
Use Community Space
Open up your community center as a soup kitchen and collect volunteers and donations from people so you can prepare meals. Throw parties with crafts and music for children from the local orphanage or foster homes.
You can also use the center as a place to teach at-risk children about sports, take them on outings to the zoo, animal shelters, children’s hospitals to play with sick kids, and many other activities that show them that there is a lot more to the world.
Neighborhood Free Library
Hold a book drive to collect books, toys, and comics from the community and then set up a free library at the local community center. Children and adults can read for free, borrow books and toys, and even sign up for classes to learn how to read.
You may find that the adult literary classes are just as complete as the children’s classes. Teach writing classes as well if you can find the volunteers. People often need a way to express themselves, and writing can be an excellent outlet for a person of any age.
Provide Skill Training
Now that people have seen how important connectivity is, you may find that running skills classes will attract many people. You can have volunteers teach parents and older people about connecting to the internet, backing up files, downloading safely, and many more needed skills for the digital age.
Children can be introduced to basic internet safety, helping them identify unsafe images and websites and report such sites to an adult or authority figure.
Sometimes, it is best to start small. People can be easily spooked after such a traumatic event as a pandemic and may need help feeling like part of a community again. Get together your core group of neighborhood buddies and start cleaning up the local playground and community garden. This will make people want to leave their homes to enjoy the fresh air and attractive spaces. Once people begin seeing each other out and about regularly, the inherent human need for connection and community will reassert itself. Organize a swap meet and pot luck lunch for the neighborhood at the local park as a way for people to come together in a relaxed atmosphere. This will really help cement the desire to start working together as a community for the betterment of the community once again.