Community Service is a Family Affair – It Takes a Village

by History Maker 101

Sometimes we imagine our children never listen to us.

This can be particularly challenging when kids become teenagers. It resembles that no matter what we tell them, they just shrug and give us that obnoxious response of whatever and we make no impact at all.

Although any child or youth instructor will tell us that this is not the case. That outside show of indifference is just that, a show. Teenagers do not jump from children to sophisticated, hardened and cynical adults in a few weeks or months. The emotional growth of a human at this age moves along just as slowly as when they were children. So even though they are an adult looking on the outside, on the inside you still have a very emotional little boy or girl who want nothing more than to please mom and dad and still try to figure out this new world they are living in.

Children and teenagers value the time they get with their parents tremendously. It might be twenty years later when you come to realize how important it is to them but they need both quality and quantity time with their mom and their dad. It is part of how their personalities form and it has a huge impact on their self-esteem and ability to go out there and conquer the world.

They learn how to handle stress from their parents. They learn how to succeed and how to gracefully lose and how to take a loss and turn it into a win from the people they know the best and that is their parents. Yes, they do listen to what you say. But they listen more than you may even realize. They listen to what adults say to each other and other adults. And they listen even more closely to what you say with your actions.

We all want to instil good values in our kids. But how to do that and still have some fun times with them and do so in the limited time everybody is home. Well, one outstanding way is to plan for family outings that include service projects to the community. That is one outstanding way to talk about your actions about your commitment to community service.

Now that concept may at first seem like you are just going to add more work to your already full plate of things to do. But doing a service project as a family doesn’t have to be tedious and tiring. There are tons of things you can do that provide service to your community but are lots of fun for everyone including

  • Go have fun at the park but while you are there, pick up every tiny bit of litter you can find.
  • Be a volunteer at the family night at church and help the little kids enjoy the rides and games that are planned for them. You own little ones will love seeing you be in charge of the Jupiter Jump and it will build community.
  • Find an area along the river where erosion is happening and plant a tree. It will hold back the erosion and you can have fun doing a gardening project and maybe even wet a hook and catch a fish.
  • Go down to the shelter and read your favourite books to needy children. The kids can bring the books that were precious to them as little ones and they get to feel that joy of seeing a child laugh at the same things they laughed at when they were young. Be careful though that you don’t find your kids wanting to adopt every kid at the shelter by the time you are done.

Family service projects are a hidden goldmine of fun and bonding for the whole family. Once you get started doing them, you won’t want to stop. You will find the whole family rushing to get ready each evening or looking forward to Saturday when they can get out there and do another one. And while you are building family unity and bonding with your kids, they are finding out that community service is a way of life and a great way to have fun at the same time.

Some years ago there was a new novel that was called, ”It Takes a Village” that created a stir. But the stir was apparently because the author was Hillary Clinton more than the topic itself. But in this book Mrs Clinton advanced the theory that in society, much of what we do that has value, including raising children is not just the work of individuals. It takes community action to make things of lasting value happen.

This concept may have had some political reason for being written but Mrs Clinton did introduce into the public mind that phrase which is an outstanding summary of why community service works so well. The keyword in community service is community. When a group of people come together for a shared purpose to do something good for the community in which they live, that is a special moment. Not only does it foster tremendous goodwill in the team and for those who are beneficiaries of the community spirit but it inspires others who see these good things happening to get involved.

If you live in a city of any large size, we have more trouble thinking of our community as a village. And to some extent, the size of the city might also influence your willingness to get involved in community service projects. But there is a way to view even life in the big city in such a way that you can find good reasons to contribute.

Even if you live in one of the large metropolitan areas of the country, the truth is, we all to some extent live in a village. You have a limited area that you travel for the most part. Most of us go to the same grocery stores, play at the same parks, attend the same church each week and use a limited number of streets even if we live surrounded by one of the biggest cities in the country. Philadelphia, one of the largest cities in the country, is known as the city of neighbourhoods. And within those neighbourhoods, everybody knows each other and life is localized. In a way, those neighbourhoods are right in the middle of a big city.

So, you too live in a village within the large city around you. And within that village, you can see ways that you can make a contribution to the lives you touch and that touch yours. Some great community service ideas that you can look for that will affect your village might be.

  • You learn from your child that the family of one of his friends cannot afford to repair their porch. You can mobilize the parents of many of the children in that class and show up there on a Saturday with a surprise porch repair crew. That kind of spontaneous event will bring bonding to just that village of parents of kids in that schoolroom that could build friendships that will last a lifetime.
  • You find out that a family-owned business is going to have to go out of business because they cannot bring their building up to code. You can circulate a petition of the many customers who love that business like you do and organize a fundraising campaign to get that building fixed. This doesn’t just have to be about money. You can get everybody into the act by having yard sales, bake sales and doing other fundraising events to keep that wonderful family-owned operation a part of your community for a long time to come.
  • A local church has all of its beautiful stained glass windows blown out by a tornado. You can use your research skills and the skills of other business people to find some replacement windows in a defunct church and get them sent to your community to make that church beautiful again.

All of these things make life better in the streets and community centers of the area of town where you live. And when you pitch in and make your little area of the world a better place to live, the good feelings and friendships you build have positive effects that are beyond measure.

And above all, you took the time to be of help so can say even with Hilary Clinton that it does take a village.

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