Each community in the US is different; some are wealthy and seemingly thriving, while others are rife with poverty and void of opportunities. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t struggles within the confines of each, even in the upper echelons of income in the US. The only way to make all of our communities better for everyone is for all of us to come out of the shadows and take action.
Change isn’t a matter of focusing on one area. Rather, building better communities means prioritizing a range of issues. Leadership Editors shares a few ideas that might just help you create positive changes in your hometown.
Find little ways to make a difference
There are so many problems facing society today that it would be impossible to cover every possible course of action in a single post. You don’t have to try to solve every problem; look for little ways you can do good within your own community. If you’re good with computers, for example, you can help by installing new accounting software for your church. This may seem like a silly suggestion, but the right software can help your church better manage donations, which, in turn, can help others. Ask other churches, as well as community centers, if there are any small projects you can help out with. These tasks could make a world of difference.
If you’re struggling to find ways to help, however, the few ideas listed below might create a domino effect of positivity that will ripple on for many generations.
Become a teacher
The most underserved communities are those that need good teachers the most. Teachers provide support and stability to students and serve as role models. As an educator, you are in a unique position to influence tomorrow’s leaders. As an added perk, it offers job stabilities and summers and weekends off. If you do not yet have a teaching degree—most school systems require a BSED—look for a program that allows you to strive toward your new career without sacrificing the delicate balance between your work and home life.
Start an afterschool program
Along the same lines as teaching, you might also consider launching an afterschool program as a nonprofit in your community. Having a formal structure will help you apply for grants and funding. According to Care.com, there are many different types of programs, and they can be so much more than just a safe space for children whose parents may otherwise be forced to leave them alone at home.
Lobby against gun violence
Guns unnecessarily kill people in every state every year. Sometimes, these are intentional murders; other times, fatalities are the result of careless gun owners. If you live in a community where gun violence is a significant problem, look for agencies that promote its prevention. Those communities most directly affected by firearm mortality have the greatest voice to solve the problem.
Teach drug awareness
Like guns, drugs kill many untold scores of people each year. Consider working with your local school system or counseling agencies to teach drug awareness in your community. This is especially important in high-crime areas, where children as young as five have access to illicit substances. One example: in 2019, a kindergarten student in Massachusetts brought his father’s cocaine to school, claiming the drug made him feel like a superhero.
Provide transportation to the polls
One of the biggest problems facing the nation today doesn’t have anything to do with gun violence or drugs. It’s a problem of transportation for people that should have a voice but don’t. People without vehicles, the elderly, and those with disabilities often miss out on performing their civic duty of voting simply because they can’t get to the polls.
Fortunately, there are many organizations that you can sign up for, including Carpool Vote, that will help you help them be heard. You might also work with the local community and church leaders to identify congregations and neighborhoods that might need a helping hand getting their members to their local voting station.
It is easy to believe that, as an individual, you can’t have a profound impact on your community. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even seemingly small acts, such as driving someone to vote or starting an afterschool program, will plant the seeds of change within your community. These will snowball and create a ripple of positivity that will connect with other community actions and eventually engulf the negative so that everyone has a safe place to call home.