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As many of you know from my previous posts, I am very passionate about being a part of our community and giving back to those in need.  In particular, providing free dental care for homeless individuals at Goldie’s Place brings me so much joy on both a professional and personal level.

However, this post isn’t about dental care for the homeless,  It’s about you!  I want to share with you some ways you can join me in bettering our community by giving your time and talents.

Your first thought might be, “I don’t have enough time to make a difference.”

Let’s start with a few things that most people could do that don’t take a large time commitment.

  • Do you have some extra clothes lying around? Donate them to the Salvation Army or a local shelter.
  • Can you skip a week of coffee from Starbucks? Donate that money to a local cause like the Kenneth Young Center or disaster relief efforts, such as the recent hurricanes.
  • Can you spare 4 hours of your time? Volunteer to help make and serve meals at the local food pantry.

 

Maybe now you are thinking, “I can do more than that,” Great! Let’s move on to how you might be able to make an even bigger impact utilizing a special skill you have.

I truly believe that everyone has a special skill or skills.  Maybe it is related to your career.  Maybe it is related to your personality.  Maybe it is related to your hobby.  Whatever your special skill is, there is a way to use it for good.

Let me give you a quick example.  My degree and skills as a dentist allow me to provide dental related services.  I provide free care, I am part of an advisory committee to improve oral health, and I help mentor dental students and encourage them to give back to the community.  In this way, I do my best to create a ripple effect through others that will stretch farther than I could alone.

You may be saying to yourself, I don’t think I have a special skill.  I bet if I sat down with you for 5 minutes I could find something that you excel at and you could use to provide a positive impact for your community.  Let me give you some examples:

  • An accountant could provide free tax advice to local seniors who need help with their tax returns.
  • A website or app designer could help a local not-for-profit improve their website or help develop interactive features to enhance interaction with potential donors
  • A teacher could provide free tutoring over the summer to a struggling student whose parents don’t have the $$ to hire a private tutor.

Now you might be thinking that your job skills don’t transfer that directly.  Maybe not, but I guarantee there is something outside of your professional life that you are passionate about.

  • Did you play a sport when you were in high school? Volunteer to coach a local youth sports team.
  • Do you love cooking food?  Offer to prepare some of the food for a local not-for-profit event.
  • Do you like to work out?  Run a race like the Chicago Marathon and raise money for a charity of your choice.

Maybe you still don’t feel like you have a specific skill or passion?  Maybe you are just an outgoing and friendly person?  Great!  I have two awesome options for you.

  • Get involved with a fundraising board for a local not-for-profit.  This often involves helping planning and running events to raise money for the charity.  Choose a charity you are passionate about.
  • Foster a dog (or cat)!  This is one of my personal favorites.  If you foster a dog, in many cases you are literally saving the life of animal.  How awesome is that?!  Organizations like PAWS Chicago and Second City Canine Rescue are always looking for temporary homes for dogs while they are waiting to get adopted.  They give you everything you need.  You get food, bowls, toys, a kennel, and vet access.  Your job is to provide a temporary home and love for the dog or cat until they get healthy and get adopted.  We have been fostering dogs for many years, and I can tell you it is a very rewarding experience.

“I am so busy wrangling my kids.  How would I have time to do any of this?”  That’s a great question, and it brings up probably my most important point of this whole post.  Get your whole family involved with volunteering!  It can be something as simple as writing holiday cards to our troops deployed overseas or donating food to a food pantry.  If you make volunteering a part of your child’s life from an early age, the likelihood of them continuing to volunteer throughout their life increases, which in turn makes the world a better place.

If you made it this far, I hope I have convinced you to put your talents and time to work in your community.  The options for getting involved are endless!

I know this post didn’t even begin to cover all the different ways to get involved in our community.  In fact, I’d love to hear your ideas! Have you done something that I haven’t mentioned and you’d like to share?  Send us a message on Facebook and we will update this list with other potential volunteer opportunities in our area.