When you consider helping out in your community, ideas such as volunteering at a local food bank or nursing home, planting trees in the local park or picking up trash along the roadside probably come to mind. However, there are many ways you can impact your community – some ideas might take a little creativity, some might take a little time, but all should strive to serve and/or beautify the world around you.
1. Accessorize your front porch
You might be wondering how this has anything to do with giving back to the community, but have you ever passed by an immaculately-kept house and taken notice? People are drawn to beauty; they find inspiration and hope in beautiful things. Consider this: if you take the time to revamp your front porch, you can create a beautiful space! Get some comfortable patio furniture (perhaps at the local thrift store?), string up lights for some serious evening mood lighting and you’re well on your way to an amazing, front-facing setting. And lastly, find yourself an ice chest and keep it stocked with sodas, sparkling water or any drink of choice!
This revitalizing of your porch has a twofold effect:
1. If you create a beautiful space, you will want to spend time in it! It will draw you out of your house and into the outdoors. Bring your book, your stationery, a puzzle, your dog or whatever you need to make your front porch your go-to hangout spot.
2. If your front porch is vibing, your neighbors will notice. And they might even copy your idea, creating a livable front porch all their own. This means more people outside, more people to wave to as you stroll past and a stronger sense of community. You don’t have to know their names to feel connected or “in community” – all you need is that bit of human connection, a wave or a smile, which you most certainly can’t get if you’re inside in front of the television.
2. Document your street
This one is for all those artistic souls, or for anyone who feels cooped up indoors. Documenting your street is all about taking notice of the world around you – the animals, plants, people, architecture, cars, the expected and unexpected details, the beauties, the not-so-beautiful items, the natural and unnatural – and documenting it.
It’s as simple as a 20-minute walk every day. Day 1, you snap a photo of a fire hydrant that’s always been on the corner of 2nd and Main. Day 2, you walk west and write a poem about an oak tree damaged in an ice storm. Day 3, you cross the street and draw what your house looks like from the neighbor’s perspective….
Of course, you don’t have to do exactly this. Make your documentation all your own. The important part is getting you out into the community, noticing things you hadn’t before, inspiring you to perhaps make a difference, like collecting trash off the sidewalk or offering to mow your neighbor’s lawn. When you get out onto your street and take the time to notice it, you’ll begin to take ownership of it. Before you realize it, you might be organizing a neighborhood event to help beautify the space where you live!
3. Map a 40-minute walking circle around your house
Take a map of your neighborhood and, using the little legend at the bottom which represents mileage, use a string to measure out 2 miles. Anchor one side of the string to your house and using the other end of the string, trace a circle around this 2 mile radius.
Why 2 miles? It takes about 40 minutes to walk, and you can cover a lot of ground in your local area in 40 minutes, discovering places you didn’t know you could walk to. You not only prevent emissions by leaving your car at home, but you enjoy exercise and support of local businesses, such as coffee shops or bookstores. There’s a lot you can discover when you ditch your car and walk around.
4. Play with the puppies
Animal therapy is a real thing, so if you can’t have a pet of your own, consider taking an hour or two out of your week to drop in to the local animal shelter. Shelters crave volunteers to interact with the cats and dogs. You might spend time socializing with the kittens in the cat room, or walking the dogs to give them some much needed exercise. Volunteering at the shelter is a win-win for everyone involved – you get some animal loving, the animals get attention and exercise and the shelter receives the help they need!
5. Carry care-packages in your car
If you don’t have the time or capability to volunteer at a homeless shelter, but want to help in some other way, consider making a few care packages to give out. It can be as simple as a sandwich bag filled with a new pair of clean socks, a protein bar or two, hand sanitizer and maybe a short note of encouragement. You can make up a dozen bags, and keep them in a box in your car to hand out when you can. Not only will you be making a difference by showing people you see them and care for them, but the people you give your care packages to will feel loved and hopefully inspired.
Adopting a creative approach to your own community
At Real Recovery, we strive to impact lives through creativity, fun and positivity. By reflecting on ways you can impact the lives of others in this way, you may be surprised by your own abilities! Building a better community doesn’t need to be complicated – in fact, it will positively influence more people if it’s uniquely your style.
And if you or someone in your community is affected by substance use habits, know that the professional healthcare providers at Real Recovery are ready to help. Our sober living houses and recovery programming are tailored toward your short and long-term success, helping you manage and overcome substance abuse challenges as you pursue freedom through recovery. Call 1-855-363-7325 today, to partner with an advocate in substance use recovery.