May 1st, 2021 Shield Bearer | Supporting your community might be the best prescription you could get!

I have been involved in my local community for as long as I can remember. My involvement as a child is what eventually led me into nonprofit work as an adult. As a child, I worked side by side with both my parents as they volunteered in a variety of ways. It set a pattern and I believe fixed my direction in life at an early age. I loved to serve and that is where I found the greatest enjoyment. 

Our communities need us now more than ever and we need our communities. We’ve been separated for too long. Humans were created to be in a community with one another. If you can provide any kind of support to your local community, I highly encourage you to do so. 

Think about a world without others to help or others supporting you — we would be lonely and isolated. I’ve never regretted volunteer work. Your life will be enriched in multiple ways and you’ll meet fascinating people and build lasting friendships.

Some of the best and most enriching experiences I’ve ever had were those when I was immersed in volunteer activities serving my local communities as a young person. It changed my perspective on life and built skills and character that no other pursuit could have. 

Many of our local businesses are struggling and many have already closed. I think the idea of volunteerism has broadened to include supporting our local small businesses. Show your love by shopping and eating at small shops. Talk ‘em up with your friends and family and on social media – go on a “Good Review” Yelp campaign.

There are so many organizations out there that need volunteers or financial support. Immerse yourself in a service that you enjoy and who provide services to meet a need that you believe is important.

Stretch yourself. Give yourself a challenge. If you’re not the “volunteer” type – maybe commit to one day a month. If you can comfortably donate $10 a month to charity – maybe commit to $15 a month.

How about taking advantage of the benefits of donating “stuff”. This is the season to spring clean, clear out the clutter, and donate your gently used possessions to local charities. Many organizations need furniture, paper goods, electronics, clothing, or office supplies. Don’t forget food closets – many churches have these as well as some of the larger food banks. 

Did you know that giving of your treasure – whether it’s your time or money or both is one of the best ways to improve your emotional state? Is that any surprise? Jesus told us in Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Volunteering and giving improve your health and makes you happier. Science supports it and Jesus said so. 

In my experience, I’ve found that my physical health improves as I focus attention on improving my community. Some volunteer groups require a physical component. There may be opportunities to get outside and enjoy the sunshine while walking. One of the most common benefits of volunteering and giving back to the community is the emotional return. This is what keeps chronic givers hooked once they start their philanthropic activities. They’re simply happier.

Each time I involve myself in a community organization, my mind is focused on what I’m doing to support the mission and the impact being made on the lives of others and nothing else. All of the worries of my day disappear, and my mind clears. Plus, I get to interact with others in my community, which is great for my social health.

A residual effect of being happier is that you’ll eat much healthier. It’s a natural side effect. Do you notice the cycle? Eating healthier aids your physical wellbeing, your physical wellbeing supports mental wellness and inner peace and on it goes. 

Giving of yourself, your time, energies, and finances to benefit others in your community help you to be part of something greater than yourself. I have found so much joy and benefit from my experiences and I’m sure many of you would agree. 

How have you supported your local community? How will you support your local community in the coming year? Keep Shield Bearer in mind and let us know how you’re doing.

Thad Cardine

Executive Director