Making a Difference: Help Thy Neighbor

When people think about making a difference, they often think of the bigger groups and organizations that they can work with, volunteer for, or make donations to. Oftentimes, however, you can make an even bigger difference just by looking next door.

Someone doesn’t need to have gone through a horrible experience, natural disaster, or life-changing event to need a little assistance. And reaching out to those near you can have a more direct impact for both of you. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Elderly or disabled neighbors may need help with simple chores or projects: shoveling or raking, landscaping, even taking out the garbage. You can also help them with running errands, cooking meals, or cleaning house.
  • Parents of young children may need help with babysitting so they can get things done in or outside of the home, or just to spend time as a couple.
  • New parents, or anyone dealing with a family crisis, can benefit from home-cooked meals or help cleaning house as they struggle with new demands.
  • Children of busy parents may benefit from a mentor to help with homework or leaning life skills. You can even take it one step further and lead a scout troop or sports team.

Keep in mind, also, that someone doesn’t have to be inĀ need to benefit from a good deed. No matter their lot in life, most people would appreciate a helping hand. Imagine waking up one snowy morning to find your driveway had been shoveled and car had been brushed off. Imagine opening your door to find a homemade treat resting on your doorstep with a note from your neighbor. Perhaps something as simple as someone taking your garbage cans off the curb.

Anything that eases the burden of those around you and brings a smile to their faces makes a difference. What can you do to helpĀ your neighbors?

Making a Difference: Community Organizations

If you’re looking to make a regular, lasting impression on others, you may want to look into community organizations. Participating in a community organization can give you the opportunity to use your time and skills to help others through programs and fundraising. And you can be involved over a long period of time, continuing to help even once a specific program or fundraising event has ended.

Organizations vary widely, from groups focused on a specific need such as medical care (i.e. Doctors Without Borders), to those working to solve a specific problem (i.e. American Cancer Society), to those serving a broad range of needs and problems (i.e. Amnesty International). The most important thing is to partner up with an organization whose mission and goals meet your own. If animals are important to you, for example, working with your local Humane Society may be your best choice.

Below are a few organizations to get you started. Your local community may have many additional choices for you. Ask at your local library or do an internet search to find organizations in your area.

You may also want to look into organizations in your area that serve a specific population, such as people with disabilities, victims of domestic abuse, children, illiterate adults, the homeless, or the unemployed.

Sadly, I recommend researching any organizations you haven’t heard of before looking to participate. You wouldn’t want to get dragged into a scam. But most organizations you’ll encounter are reputable and will greatly appreciate the help you’re willing to give.