The Secret To Giving More

“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.

Ducks in a row - geograph.org.uk - 1407900

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.)

* Tired of not knowing the basics of house repair? Join the folks at Habitat For Humanity or Rebuilding Together and ask for a specific type of repair or building work.

* 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.

There are so many ways to give your time. Start with Volunteer Match or Hands On and look at the list of projects.

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. 

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About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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2 Responses to The Secret To Giving More

  1. Natalie says:

    You nailed it! Alignment is the key exactly. Matching our own needs with the needs of the community smothers the excuse that we don’t have time.

    I’ve gotten involved in Blue Star banners for military families (and blogged about it yesterday) because of our own family’s pride in Adam and Erik’s service to their country.

    (And, of course, getting daily nudges here…) 😉 Thank you, Eric.

  2. Eric Winger says:

    I hadn’t heard of Blue Star banners before, but I have now. Thanks!

    And I’m so glad to hear that you’re helping out their organization by getting the word out to other military families. No matter what one’s thoughts are about the conflicts we’re in right now, there’s always room to help and acknowledge the young people in the uniforms … and their families.

    Hooray to you for making a difference, Natalie!!

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