Sunday, April 18, 2021


Building Better Communities…

February 28, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) *There we were with rubber gloves and plastic bags picking up trash in two parks in our neighborhood. It was not my idea of the perfect family outing.

The two eldest boys were working to earn a badge for their karate school. The sour looks on their faces reflected my own queasiness with the task. Is it possible to wear two pairs of rubber gloves?

After a bit, however, we all got in the spirit and two things became apparent: First, my sons and I were bonding and while picking up trash at the park will not become a favorite pastime, it is fair to say we all ended up having fun.

Second, our neighborhood was the better for our 125 minutes of work. The parks were cleaner and, more importantly, our work may have inspired others to follow our example. Trash pick-up might not be their thing.

As the song says, “Different strokes for different folks.” But whether you define community as your immediate neighborhood or the larger community of man, we made clear that everyone can become involved and change that community for the better.

The good book says that the poor will always be with us. It follows then that there will also always be a corresponding need for those of us that have more to spend time in service to those that have less.

There are shelters in every community that find themselves volunteer rich during the holidays, but sorely short on help during the rest of the year. Food banks are in need of non-perishable food items.

Why not spend this weekend going through the pantry and fill a bag of canned goods to deliver to the local food bank? Why not make it a habit to do it once every few months? Perhaps you and the spouse could spend one date-night serving food at a mission.

You might find that it brings the two of you to a new level of intimacy. You may also discover that many visitors to the kitchen need spiritual food as much if not more than they need food in their bellies.

The same is true of service to the elderly.

Anyone that has been in a care facility for the elderly can testify that it is one of the loneliest places you will ever experience. Far too many of our families use these facilities to park their elderly parents or grandparents away unseen and unthought-of. The residents often sit for hours with no one to talk to. What is worse, they often have no clothing as their families do not replace what becomes worn. Why not take some of those house dresses or khaki pants that you have outgrown and donate them to your neighborhood resident care facility? Better yet, why not stop by and visit with the residents on occasion. Sit and talk or read a book with someone that is very likely looking for a bit of human contact.

It is possible that none of these endeavors appeals to your sensibilities. That’s fine. What about joining the Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs? There is a backlog of young girls and boys in need of a positive and supporting influence in their lives. As big a supporter as I am of the BBBS, however, they are not the only mentoring programs available. Perhaps there is a mentoring program through your local college or Greek letter organization. Scouting may be your thing or possibly you are an athlete. Why not become a scout master or coach a local kid’s team? The influence you can have on a child’s life – the positive influence you can wield in your community through becoming a scout master or youth coach is enormous.

Many of us have family obligations that don’t allow the kind of time commitment necessary to coach or lead scouts. Many more may already belong to a service organization that has a regular charitable program. That shouldn’t mean that your work is finished. When was the last time you visited your local cultural museum – any cultural museum? The nominal fee you pay to enter helps provide educational programs that are a resource for students of all ages.

The list of ways you can be a positive member of the community is endless. You don’t have to use my ideas. Be creative. Make your own list. That is called leading by example. And that is the beauty of the work that my sons and I did that afternoon.

Building better communities takes more than big talk, it first takes family relationships; it then takes rolling up your sleeves putting on two pair of rubber gloves if necessary and diving right in.

Written By Joseph C. Phillips


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