With the start of another year comes another long catalog of resolutions for change and improvement. Fortunately, alongside the ever-popular “lose weight” and “quit smoking,” “give back” frequently appears on to-do lists throughout the country; unfortunately, this is one of the most often abandoned resolutions, much to the detriment of communities everywhere. In 2015, after you abandon your gym membership and give into your nicotine cravings, make sure at least one resolution sticks: the decision to improve others’ lives.
1. Mentor Youth
The cliché is absolutely true: Children are our future. Unfortunately, too many American kids grow up without valuable role models, and they meet adulthood utterly unprepared for the responsibilities of the real world. You have the power to positively influence the course of at least one child’s life in concrete and substantial ways.
For example, children who regularly meet with a mentor are 52 percent less likely to miss school and 46 percent less likely to try illegal substances.Every kid deserves the chance to succeed, and you can provide stability and support to a child otherwise lacking.
2. Work In Homeless Kitchens And Shelters
Homelessness exists in every city in the nation, and only through compassion and good public works we work to resolve it. Kitchens and shelters that provide essential elements of survival to unfortunate homeless souls are tragically underfunded and understaffed. Estimates place nearly 5 million Americans in need of food and housing every night, and many kitchens and shelters become so overtaxed that they must turn people away.
Shelters provide more than a roof and warm bed: Many shelters assist the homeless with group therapy and substance abuse treatment, and some supportive housing models even help with education and job searches in attempts to prevent and end homelessness for good. To directly impact the health of your community, donate your efforts to your local homeless kitchen or shelter.
Read more: Build A Container Home
3. Fight Drug And Alcohol Abuse
Substance abuse is an immensely detrimental disorder that can afflict any race, any sex, and any socio-economic status. America has seen a drastic increase in use of drugs and alcohol, particularly among demographics you wouldn’t expect: teenagers and the wealthy. Illicit substances are becoming more widely available, and more and more people are beginning to experiment and suffer the consequences of addiction.
Besides engaging loved ones with addictions in discussions about substance abuse rehabilitation centers, there is much you can do to fight the rising rates of drug and alcohol abuse. Plenty of non-profits work to educate people about the widespread harmful effects of substances, and they are always looking for speakers or fundraisers to help out.
See more: 20 ways to stop drinking alcohol
4. Host Community Engagements
Because of the ease of access to sufficient entertainment within the walls of the home, strong communities are becoming few and far between. Individuals and families no longer seek out relationships with neighbors, and this lack of fundamental connection among people is creating a negative ripple effect in the rest of society. Happiness is flagging, health is failing, and hope has all but disappeared completely.
It is never too late to build a foundation amongst your community. You can organize neighborhood events to foster friendship and reliance where there previously was none. Here are some tips to get you started as the primary host of community events.
- Start small. A simple backyard barbecue or cocktail mixer should be enough to break the ice.
- Encourage participation. Once everyone knows each other, you can start asking favors during subsequent events: One neighbor can bring the wine, and another can provide the music.
- Be creative. You shouldn’t be afraid to let your personality show; the sooner you can be your true self, the sooner others will feel comfortable around you.
- Get kids involved. In many ways, children are much faster at accepting and embracing people they don’t know. If your neighborhood is filled with families, the sooner your kids bond, the sooner the adults will become fast friends.
5. Clean Up
The benefits of a clean and organized house are obvious: Everything from your mood to your health improves when the counters are wiped and the floor is swept. Thus, you can imagine the exponential ramifications of a clean community or city.
It doesn’t take much effort to make sure your own refuse goes in appropriate garbage and recycle bins, and even picking up others’ trash when you see it won’t take much time out of your day. However, you can make an even bigger impact by organizing volunteers in cleanliness initiatives in parks and recreational areas where waste is usually plentiful.
If you don’t have the time or energy to go out and do good yourself, you can always make donations in the form of money or objects to charities in need. Non-profits are always wanting of funds or supplies to keep their good works going, and if you are blessed with a surplus, contributing is a thoughtful way to help.