The Ties That Bind
For people around the world, 2020 was a strange and lonely year. Many of us will remember it as a time of loss, of family members, jobs, social lives, or even homes. Cultural shifts, the fast pace of modern life, and other complexities, compounded by the practice of social distancing, might leave us feeling like true community is something from “the good old days” that will never return. In the wake of such a difficult year, we may find ourselves at a loss as to how to move forward and create a “new normal.”
But move forward we will. One step toward healing is to build (or rebuild) stronger connections within your local community. That word “community” can mean many different things. It can be your city, town, or neighborhood. It can be your church, hobby, or social club. Whatever it means to you, a community that’s meant to build and nurture the bonds between us is something we may all benefit from, especially these days.
As financial professionals we believe in the power of helping others move toward their goals. If our neighbors are in trouble, it not only feels good to help them out, but it also gives us the comfort of knowing that they might step up, should we ever need help.
If you’re thinking about ways to strengthen your own sense of connection to your community in 2021 and beyond, here are a few ideas to consider.
Something From the Oven
How you build connections depends on the scale of your community. It’s possible that you might be giving back to one, a few, or many. One tried-and-true way to create a sense of belonging is to offer something to eat.
Food brings people together. Bringing a baked dish or dessert to your neighbors is a good way to connect, whether those neighbors are moving in, facing a difficult time, or you just want to say hello. If you bake, garden, or can vegetables, you might start by offering some of your bounty.
On a larger scale, organizing or donating to a bake sale, food drive, or fundraising meal can be a rewarding and fun way to contribute (not to mention give you a chance to check out the cooking skills of your fellow contributors).
Emptying the Closet
In the colder months, the homeless and those lacking economic support may have trouble staying warm. Clothing and blanket drives can help bridge the gap for those in need. As a side benefit, donating your unwanted items also gives you an opportunity to downsize, simplify, and clear your cluttered closets.
You can bring your neighbors into the process. A big donation drive in the winter makes a nice counterpart to a benefit community sale in the summer (great for raising money for a common cause). If a community-wide sale is problematic or prohibited where you live, ask around locally to find a venue for your sale. Community centers, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) halls, or churches may be willing to let you use their parking lots, especially for a good cause.
Showing Up for Your Community
Sometimes giving back to the community isn’t about material things, but “people power.” You might help serve at a fundraiser dinner, mind the cashbox at a benefit art auction, lead tours at a local museum, or act as a general volunteer for any number of local organizations.
There are just as many ways to give back as there are people, animals, and causes in need of assistance. Contact the organization you’d like to give your time to and ask them how you can help. Charities, schools, museums, and other organizations may be looking for someone like you.
Cultivating these opportunities can be an eye-opening experience, but giving your time and energy to others also has the power to expand your world in refreshing ways. The connections that you create can help you establish a sense of rootedness after a tough season, and over time, they might just become their own reward.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.