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Community is a word we hear a lot, but how many places actually have that?
Not a place where people live anonymously, but a place where people understand their surroundings and know one another. A community is defined as “a feeling of fellowship, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals”. That feeling could be good or bad.
When a place where you live has a good community environment it is because of the community involvement. The people that live there are concerned and understand what it is that needs to be done to have a safe happy and nice place to live. Now that doesn’t mean that people in bad or less desirable communities are uncaring of where they live. Their community is evolving.
Communities that are strong and have involvement encourages people to stay, makes people more willing to open businesses that bring wealth into the communities, and becomes the legacy we leave our future generations.
Too many times people come into our Black communities to prey upon us like parasites. The businesses care nothing about us, and don’t give back to the community in any way. This is the exact opposite of Black love. There are businesses that we love that have been in our communities for years and they have yet to give back or build up the community from which they take.
We have the power to help change the face of and energy of the Black community by getting involved. Here are 4 ways.
Organize A Community Cleanup
Everyone feels good when things are nice and clean – including their neighborhoods. Walking around and seeing trash everywhere is not a good feeling and is not safe for children of pets. Meeting up with garbage bags, gloves and a broom or two makes a difference.
Also call 311 and see if your city gives out free recycle and trash bins. If you rent, hold your landlord accountable for trash inside the building and on the property. Place flyers around the neighborhood and ask local businesses to clean daily for the health of the community.
And do not forget playgrounds! Children need a safe and clean place to play free of glass and other debris. Parks are a necessity for healthy children and a chance for parents in the community to meet.
Organize a Monthly Food and Clothing Drive
Take donations all month of CLEAN Clothing and lightly used shoes by canvassing your community. Go door to door asking the neighborhood if they have any old clothing they have wanted to get rid of but havent gotten around to it. Chances are they do! Collect them all up, clean the items, and go right back into the community to distribute those items. Not only are you doing good in your community but you are also getting exposure for your local chapter or organization!
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The food should be healthy choices for people. Collect fresh fruits and vegetables 2-3 days before the drive.
When it comes to food, see if local restaurants would like to donate time and food. Make it fun, cultural, offer coffee, tea and have entertainment if possible.
Finally, ask people to volunteer! When people know it is a good cause they will come out. Again, you can achieve three things by going door to door and business to buisness:
1. You gain exposure
2. You improve the community, and
3. You recruit volunteers!
Serve or Cook In A Soup Kitchen
I currently volunteer at a soup kitchen a few days a week before I go to work. I’ve been doing this since November and it is so humbling and eye-opening. I’ve met all kinds of people, from the mentally ill, Ph.D.’s and chemists to people who have been homeless for decades. It really shows you how society treats people and you get an understanding of how we think in this country when it comes to those less fortunate.
I suggest you volunteer not when the holidays come around. That’s when everyone wants to do it. Volunteer on regular days of the month. Go in once or twice a week, and be consistent. The regulars look forward to the nice people (like you) that help on a regular basis.
Plus if you see them in the community it brightens their day to see a person that they know, and it brightens yours. And you are making connections in the community. Sign up today and PLEASE ask what is the minimum age they take volunteers is. It is so important for our youth to learn the spirit of giving and caring.
Organize a Read-in for Children and Movie Night for Adults
The read in for children is having a space at the library, community center or other venues where you have a day where volunteers read to children. You can have different areas for reading and art.
Children can draw their favorite part of the story and have something to carry home. Be sure to have plenty of extras like macaroni, glitter, glue and crayons.
Movie night (or evening) for adults, can be a way to watch movies that can help with critical creative thinking and stimulating conversation. I suggest movies that are educational and carry the Black Love is Black Power thee.
This can take place at your local coffee shop, community center or a place that is big enough to hold at least a dozen people. Remember to discuss solutions or what could have been done better to produce a favorable outcome.