You And Your Community: The Importance Of Giving Back by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished … it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better.

It’s about what you’ve given back.

~ Denzel Washington

Developing a habit of giving is positive for everyone in the community. The importance of giving back to your community is different for everyone. Still, all who volunteer feel a need to support others and to share their talents, skills, and abilities to provide a positive impact.

Of course, there is also a personal motivation for most people to give back. Helping others makes us feel good; it helps us to feel connected to our neighbors and our neighborhoods and to also have a sense of accomplishment and contribution to the big picture.

Understanding what happens to ourselves and others when we choose to get involved and volunteer helps to see why this is such an essential way to make a difference.

  • Build a network – volunteering for community events puts us in contact with like-minded individuals. These are individuals who share the same passions, interests, and goals, which helps to develop your own network to call on for other projects or to share ideas and suggestions.
  • Enhance or build skills – giving back helps to develop our own skill sets while helping others. A great example of this is the Habitat for Humanity program, where volunteers work to build homes for those in need. Other programs, such as volunteering in animal rescues or working with the elderly, also build skills that can be used in your own life.
  • Experience different perspectives – it can be easy to develop a picture of your community that is based only on your experience. By working with different volunteer groups, you can experience other aspects of your community that assist in understanding diversity, change, and the need for specific support or assistance.
  • Feel good about yourself – it can be easy to feel like you are in a rut. Through volunteering, you can explore something new, use your skills and knowledge, and feel needed, connected, and necessary in your local area.

Ideas for Giving Back

Most people have an area of interest or passion. These areas are the ideal place to start in volunteering and getting involved. Make a list of what you would like to do, then compare your talents, skills, and abilities with the mission or the mandate of the various organizations in your community.

Keep in mind; you do not have to be an expert in an area to volunteer. You may want to volunteer to get training and education on a specific area of interest. It is easier to start with a smaller role, increasing your volunteer activities as you experience what it is like to work with the organization.