Posts Tagged: community service

Community Care: 12 Ways to Show Up for Each Other

INFOGRAPHIC & INTRO BY ARYN HENNING NICHOLS

So much of the conversation lately has been about taking care of our selves. Exercising and eating well so we keep our bodies healthy and strong. Taking time to do things that go beyond work and the day-to-day stress and grind. Things that speak to our souls, that help us feel alive and like we’re actually living.

But what happens when you don’t have the privilege – of time or money or mental capacity – to do this? Because for many, self care is not a reality.

When I read an article that quoted Nakita Valerio, a Toronto-based community organizer, as saying, “Shouting ‘self-care’ at people who actually need ‘community care’ is how we fail people,” a light bulb went off in my brain. Yes! Community care. This is the phrase I’ve been missing.

Valerio defines community care as “People committed to leveraging their privilege to be there for one another in various ways.”

It can be something small, like reaching out via text to a friend you haven’t heard from in awhile, or something larger, like volunteering of your time or skillset, or cooking some meals or buying groceries.

It’s performing acts of kindness, but they aren’t random.

“It’s about being committed to being there for people,” Valerio says. “And it’s about being there for people without them having to take the initial first step. It’s about adopting an ethos of compassion and very intentionally applying that.”

Plus, when you’re there for other people, it’s comforting to know there is a community of folks in place to support you when you’re down on your luck.

So, if you have the time and/or the money, think about how you can intentionally care for and foster your community – or communities. In honor of Inspire(d)’s 12-year anniversary, we put together an infographic showcasing 12 ways you can care for your community and Show Up for Each Other. We’re all in this together, friends!

Thanks for helping us foster this community of positive news for 12 years! XOX, Aryn

1. Life is give and take

Although we don’t do things just to have something done for us, part of giving of your time and self is knowing that these people will be there when you need it too.

2. Literally show up

Go to a friend’s birthday party, or help with moving day, or a co-workers city election. Sometimes a person just needs someone to sit with them. Be that person.

3. Digital Love

• Send a thoughtful text

• Like and Love posts on social media

• Write kind comments

• Start a social media group that supports each another

4. Cook a meal for a neighbor

5. Buy some groceries for a friend in need

6. Offer up your skillset

Can you fix or build things? Are you super good at organizing? Maybe you’re a graphic design pro? Your skills are worthwhile and important, and can be a huge help to someone in need.

7. Offer to be there when someone might need it.

Often when we need help, that’s the hardest time to ask for it. So pay attention. You’ve got to be vigilant with your community.

8. Volunteer

9. Support community organizations

That might be through monetary or physical donations, or by giving of your time.

10. Host a potluck

Invite someone new in town to come!

11. Build a community within your community

Book or card clubs, regular friends nights, exercise groups…creating community is an act of care in and of itself.

12. Support local businesses

They’re run by your neighbors… need we say more?

Live Generously: Liz Fox

Liz FoxLiz Fox, Decorah High School Community Club & Silver Cord Program

They have served up pancakes for Nisse Preschool, set up holiday light displays for Helping Services of Northeast Iowa, collected and sorted books for United Way, cleaned up roadsides for the Decorah Lions Club, and educated area youth about the dangers of tobacco use.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the community service performed by countless Decorah High School students over the years, according to Liz Fox, a language arts instructor who also coordinates the school’s Silver Cord program and advises its Community Club.

“In my 13-year tenure as a teacher at Decorah High School, the one thing that remains constant is the goodness of the students,” she says. “Sometimes teens get a bad rap, but these teens really are committed to serving – and improving – their community.”

It was a group of students at DHS, in fact, who first approached one of their teachers, Cam Forde, in the late 1990s to request permission to form a club focused on community service. Today that organization, the DHS Community Club, boasts more than 30 members who implement a number of annual projects – care to buy a Spirit Button, anyone? – in addition to volunteering on an as-needed basis. “The students are constantly finding new ways to pitch in and help around town,” says Liz, who succeeded Forde as Community Club adviser in 2005. “I derive a lot of satisfaction from the positive energy they bring to the community.”

Last year, after months of planning spearheaded by Principal Kim Sheppard, the high school established a recognition program, Silver Cord, to honor those students who log at least 200 hours of community service by the time they graduate. “It’s been an incredible success – we had 55 seniors perform at least 50 hours of service the first year and earn the distinction last May,” says Liz. “And thanks to the generosity of the Decorah Lions Club, which pays for the cords, the students who earned those cords got to keep them upon graduation.”

Not surprisingly, the willingness of Decorah youth to give back so readily has benefited not only the community but also the teen volunteers. “It’s truly been a win-win for all involved,” says Liz. “The community is grateful for the work the students perform, and the students are thrilled to give back to a community that supports them so deeply.”


Organizations interested in Decorah High School volunteers should contact Fox at
liz.fox@decorah.k12.ia.us. – by Sara Friedl-Putnam

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