Active involvement in the community makes a difference

There are many opportunities to become involved in your community. Channel your active energy to make a positive difference!

In the community where you live and put down roots, you get to know the people and hear about areas that need additional help and change. Learning more about the larger community (including surrounding towns and the county as a whole) can help you become more active. There are many ways to volunteer your time and energy to help make your community a better place. The following are just a few.

Become involved in (or well-informed about) local politics. You may never have imagined yourself running for elected office of any kind, but this is the place where you really can make the most difference in town policies. At the very least, you should periodically attend your local city council or county commissioner regular meetings. Become familiar with the issues that your local elected leaders are discussing.

You may even decide to run for an elected position. By running, you'll meet many people who live in your community that you never would have met, and even if you don't win, you may find other ways to become active where your help is really needed.

Volunteer at a community food kitchen or food bank. These services are always looking for more volunteers, and this is a wonderful way to help your community neighbors in need.

Visit your local library. You don't have to have a degree in library science to find ways to become active through your local library. Many libraries run children's and senior's programs that could use some extra hands (and voices) to make the program successful.

Call the elementary school. Even if you don't have children, or if your children are grown, you can offer your reading abilities to the younger grades for volunteer reading programs, or become a lunchroom or playground aide.

Join a local service club, a voluntary non-profit organization where members meet regularly to perform charitable works either by direct hands-on efforts or by raising money for other organizations. A service club is defined first by its service mission and second by its membership benefits, such as social occasions, networking and personal growth opportunities that encourage involvement. Find one that fits your interests.

Check out the local senior centers. There are so many needs in nursing homes and assisted living centers that they can't all be included here. You can help by becoming active in a Meals on Wheels program, reading to the elderly or offering your shopping services. All you have to do is call and someone will get you going.

Remember, the future is shaped by people who show up to do the work. Be one of those people for the good of your community!

MSU Extension Educators are available to work with communities to assist with establishing local priorities and building consensus. For additional information on this and other issues including community success in the New Economy, placemaking, or community engagement and leadership development, contact Ann Chastain, MSU Extension Educator at 231.348.1770, or by e-mail

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