Make Your World A Better Place
By Annette Brooks
The late Muhammad Ali opined, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” With our busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to volunteer, and we forget about truly serving others in a broader sense- paying our earthly rent, as Ali describes it. Wouldn’t it be great if someone developed a wearable device that could remind us to help others as well as stay active? Maybe a GiveBit? Until then, we must rely on ourselves to reach out and embrace the goodness of volunteerism.
Making monetary contributions or donating items you no longer need are indeed ways to help out, but volunteering your personal time and energy to selflessly help others lifts you to a new plateau. Through volunteerism, you learn more about yourself, meet interesting people and like-minded friends, and broaden your horizons as you gain insight and discover new ways of looking at issues.
Volunteering in your own community is particularly compelling. Not only does it give you a chance to become better connected and socially aware, offering assistance feels good when you make a difference right where you live. And there’s another benefit—you get to live in a community that is improved through volunteering.
SOUND GOOD? THEN IT’S TIME TO START PLANNING YOUR VOLUNTEER STRATEGY.
Before you rush to sign up for anything, do some soul-searching. A little planning and introspection up front will leave you satisfied with your decision and make you more likely to stay committed to it. Start by determining the amount of time you have available. Some volunteer assignments require an ongoing commitment, while others can be accomplished as you have time. If you are new to volunteering, it may be wise to start slowly, then expand your schedule as you become comfortable. Keep in mind that helping with small tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals and organizations in need. Every contribution matters.
Next, determine what types of causes or issues interest you the most. Do you want to help children, the elderly, military veterans or families who are economically challenged? Would you like to be involved with rescuing animals? Does beautifying your community appeal to you? Do you want to work as part of a team or as an individual contributor?
Also, consider whether you want to use a set of skills you already have or learn some new ones. If you’re good at writing, for instance, do you want to help people with their resumes? If you have great people skills, check out opportunities that require someone who is a good, supportive listener. Do you love children and enjoy reading out loud? Ask to help with our local library’s story time or find a school in need of volunteers. If you’re looking for something more physical in nature, help with a community cleanup or a food drive or stock and distribute food at a local food pantry.
Ready, Set, Get Involved!
Southlake has a wide selection of volunteer opportunities that enable citizens to participate and help keep the community a wonderful place to work, play, and live for all—without additional taxation. Visit CityOfSouthlake.com/97/Volunteer- Southlake.com and check out the city departments that need volunteers. This diverse set includes, but is not limited to, volunteering at the library, Southlake Senior Center, and Southlake Town Hall, where you can contribute as an on-call secretary, as a newsletter journalist, and more.
Interested in helping keep Southlake safe? The Departments of Public Safety offers numerous options, such as Volunteers in Policing (VIPS), Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Fire Rehab, Crud Cruiser and Citizens On Patrol (COPS). All volunteers must attend the 13-week Citizens Academy training prior to serving. Or perhaps you would like to get involved with seasonal events. This spring, help set up games, crafts, egg hunts and more for Easter in the Park. If you love working with children, consider volunteer opportunities with Southlake’s Camp Mania, which provides fun activities for kid ages five through 11 during school and summer breaks.
Volunteer Southlake also encourages children to volunteer. Many opportunities are open to ages 12 and up, and the musician volunteer program gives young talent—starting at age seven—a chance to gain valuable performance experience while sharing the gift of music with the community.
“People from various backgrounds and with different ideas come together in Southlake to volunteer and make our community distinctive,” says Shawn McCaskill, Southlake city council member. “There’s something for everyone, including becoming involved in one of our many boards and commissions, which provide valuable advisement to the city council.”
Residents serving on boards and commissions are appointed by the city council for two-year terms. Opportunities include the parks and recreation board, Southlake arts council, planning and zoning commission, and many more.
To get involved in organizations that cater to multiple area communities, consider one of the following.
Community Storehouse (CommunityStoreHouse.org) is the only children's charity in Northwest Tarrant County focused on keeping children in the classroom while going through struggling times. Addressing issues that threaten to interfere with a child’s success in school can be crucial to their long-term success in life. Support can include tutoring, counseling, supply donation and even financial planning.
I Can Still Shine (ICanStillShine.org), is a faith-based organization created to help women and their children escape abusive relationships and break the cycle of abuse, homelessness and pain. I Can Still Shine sponsors events that are free and open to abused women and children and offers an array of services that includes food, clothing, personal care items, free eye exams and glasses, off-site counseling services and much more.
Young Life (Southlake.YoungLife.org) believes in the power of presence, and that childrens’ lives are dramatically impacted when caring adults come alongside them, sharing God's love with them. The organization provides a weekly students’ club, a small group bible study, winter or summer camp at Young Life properties, international mission trips and other regional and area Young Life events. Adults can support Young Life in several ways, such as becoming a volunteer leader or committee member.
However you choose to volunteer, you’ll find the “rent you pay” well worth the investment of your time and talents. Let’s get started today!
Southlake STYLE Magazine