Community and Service are two inseparable concepts. Community is strengthened by forming connections with others. Bonds between individuals form from reciprocity, providing the foundation on which the community at large resides. Here are five reasons how and why these two concepts go hand in hand.
Sharing knowledge, time, and resources helps others. At a basic level, it is a demonstration of caring and compassion. When this is directed toward a cause, or a community, it provides a place for individuals to connect. Connections formed from the offering and receiving of assistance–knowledge, time, resources–can build friendships, or at least instill a greater sense of self-worth in the recipient if needed.
Giving helps the giver and the recipient, benefiting both community and service. This is often misunderstood in a society fond of tossing items into trash cans. Taking an item you don’t need any more and giving it to someone who can use it, and is grateful for receiving it, is so much more meaningful than dumping the same item. The feeling the giver receives upon handing over the item, be it a household appliance, food or a cash-donation, creates a connection between the giver and recipient.
The recipient is grateful for an item that may be hard to acquire otherwise. The creation of a give and take reciprocity actually forms fondness, gratitude, and the basis of community through an act of service.
#3 Raising Awareness
Raising awareness is an extension of sharing knowledge. However, the individuals receiving this knowledge do not necessarily realize how essential the awareness is to their existence.
Making your community aware of the need for the service is necessary for that service to take place. Raising awareness is the act of educating a populace about a topic about which they possess little or no knowledge. But because community is built on the granting and receiving of services, awareness of issues that require community involvement and service are essential to providing the community particular services.
This means participating or helping in walks, runs, or even wearing bracelets. Arranging a small bake sale on a school campus to support a particular charity, and so providing a venue to answer questions posed by the student body, is another example. Opportunities for volunteering such as these demonstrate the inseparability of community and service.
Some acts of service inspire others in the community to follow suit. Assisting in soup kitchens, becoming a big brother or big sister, or even mentoring or tutoring presents contact with someone needing positive human interaction. In turn, that person receiving services from a volunteer can be inspired to find a path in life that was not previously apparent. While they do, the volunteer reaching out to them can provide knowledge that inspires and helps them to see themselves, their situation, differently. When self-worth is part of the recipe, the volunteer’s inspirational presence can work wonders.
Community and service are strengthened through activism when activism works to guarantee that the community votes for individuals who fulfill their needs. When community and service fit together, those actively providing service must guarantee that even in the political sphere the whole of the community is granted a voice.
Activists provide the ability to make certain policy does not marginalize any subset of the larger population and defend those who are unable to speak up for themselves. By maintaining an involvement with community affairs, activists can assist the community they represent by taking action when needed.
Community and service really are two sides of the same coin. Providing service strengthens ties between individuals who volunteer and people who are the recipients of their efforts. Service is provided to a community, and the community becomes stronger as a direct result of the service provided.
Photo credit: By Christiana Care
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