“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”
— George Bernard Shaw
A funny thing happened this weekend when I fixed patched some holes at the Good Neighbor Center. Our own wall got fixed.
The dent had probably been there for over a year. It was always one of those projects that should get done, but never did. Eventually, I quit noticing it.
Then, when I was asked to fix the holes at the shelter, I remembered our own hole. After I got dirty from plastering their walls, it was easy enough to patch and fix ours.
And therein lies the secret to giving more. Alignment.
Too often, when we hear the words volunteer we cringe and think about adding one more thing to our already busy lives. But it doesn’t take a lot of extra time if we practice alignment.
When we align our interests with those of the people in our community, we can suddenly do much, much more without spending a lot more time. Understanding the needs of the community and how we can align our needs with others lets us solve two problems at the same time.
Here’s a couple examples to easily align your interests with your community:
* Going to a school event? Volunteer and you help make the event better. You’ll also meet other parents and teachers whom will form the basis of a community to exchange information about how to best educate your child.
* Cleaning out the garage? Take all the clothes that you want to get rid of and put them in a bag in your trunk. The next time you drive by Goodwill or Value Village, drop them off. Your garage is cleaner and people in the community have a few more choices to wear.
* All the flowers in your yard are dying? Volunteer at a community garden run by groups like the Tualatin Valley Gleaners and work side by side with garden experts. It’s free access to an expert and enthusiastic gardner. You’ll probably save yourself a lot of time and failures.
* Want to build your resume? Volunteer to teach a class on something you want a prospective employer to know about. This could be especially valuable if you’re not a native English speaker and can teach a beginner’s class in your first language.
* Want your spouse to be a little happier? Do the dishes, the laundry, cook supper, vacuum, or something else you don’t normally do. Then the next night do it again. (Ok, take this with a grain of salt. I’m not a marriage counselor, nor certified in anyway to provide marital guidance.)
* Want to make your local park or creek more green? Talk to groups like Friends of Trees about a tree planting day.
* Want to teach your kids or yourself about computers? Go to Free Geek and learn to build computers.
Aligning the needs of your community with your own needs lets you do more with very little extra time. You’ll not only get something done for yourself, but you’ll know you did something good for your community at the same time.
It’s the secret to giving more.
Did the dishes. My need to see a clean kitchen was fulfilled.