What is your part in our community?

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by Sarah Johnson

sarah.johnson.1At our house, everyone contributes. It’s not a big house, so even with just three of us we’re able to get a lot done if everyone does their part.

Imagine what could be possible if we approached our community the same way.

Like so many other things, “making a difference” in a community sounds kind of overwhelming if you think too big. Most of us won’t have impacts that make the headlines. But just like in our little house, we can get so much done if everyone does their part. 

Since this week is National Volunteer Week, now is a great time to think about what your part could be.

Within any city or county, there are lots of smaller communities to which we each belong. School, neighborhood or church might come to mind, but dig a little deeper and you’ll probably find plenty of other “communities” here in Mesa County that would welcome your contribution, no matter the size.

Want to help kids succeed but don’t have a lot of time to give? Consider Read with a Child, a joint project between the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce and School District 51 that requires a commitment of just one hour a week.

Is yours a family that loves animals? Roice-Hurst Humane Society is looking for “kitten nannies” to help raise newborn kittens until they can be adopted.

For kids, volunteering offers all kinds of practical benefits, with opportunities to gain skills, practice social interactions, and develop good work habits. If they’re lucky, they might even stumble onto a lifelong passion or a potential career path.

Some of the greatest volunteering benefits for families are a little less tangible but no less important. Not only do you get to spend time together doing something that feels good, sharing time and talents for the benefit of something you believe in sends a powerful message to children – That each of us is valuable beyond our little family circle and that what we personally have to offer makes a community stronger and better.

Science even suggests that giving makes us happier: Volunteering has been linked to higher rates of life satisfaction and overall health as well as lower rates of depression, stress, and anxiety.

During National Volunteer Week, consider what volunteering might look like for your family. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the options posted on Western Colorado 211, in collaboration with Healthy Mesa County and United Way: http://getconnected.wc211.org/

No matter how busy we get, we can probably all agree that spending time with the people we consider family should be a priority, and volunteering is one way families can “do their part” together. The benefits are clear, and you sure can’t beat the price. 

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