Groundhog Day Sculpture

Kindness Through Community – A Win for All

Punxsutawney Phil, the world’s most famous groundhog, saw his shadow this week, which supposedly means at least six more weeks of winter.  But not where I’m from.  Every year, Groundhog Day, a traditionally North American holiday, is celebrated in my neighborhood park with cookies, hot chocolate and bubbles (gotta make everyone happy), and the carving of an impressive groundhog ice sculpture. Our park’s event unites neighbors, young and old, and this year our groundhog said spring is on the way. 

My Neighborhood – Kindness and Community

Duane Park, “a tiny and mighty neighborhood treasure,” is a small triangle of greenspace in bustling Lower Manhattan.  It has a rich history (the second oldest public park in New York City) and a group of locals, the Friends of Duane Park, work to ensure that history is preserved.  They have a beautiful mission, not solely focusing on the gardens, but on building community as well. 

When I designed my pursuit to create a habit of kindness, I identified the “Whos of My Pursuit.” I decided neighborhood would be an important component and started looking for ways I could contribute…which led me to The Friends and that little haven of green. 

The Whos of my Pursuit

The Win-Win of Kindness and Community

Volunteering in your community doesn’t just benefit others; it’s a win-win: providing a needed service in your community and gains for you too.

Improvements You Can See

When you contribute your time and resources close to home, you get the added benefit of reaping the rewards yourself.  For me, the fruits of our labor are obvious: clean park benches, beautiful tulips, and healthy trees.  For you, it could be safer playground equipment in your park, organized bookshelves at your library, or the satisfaction of knowing a resident in the senior home isn’t lonely today.

Strengthen Your Local Network

Whether you’ve just moved to the neighborhood or been there your whole life, there are always new businesses to discover or people to know better.  You may be on a team with a fitness instructor who is looking for new clients or work with the school board for the first time.  Working together on a project forges new partnerships which can be mutually beneficial.

I have been pleasantly surprised at the expansive web of people and businesses contributing to Duane Park.  I’ve worked with a range of people: coffee house managers, a wine sommelier, journalists, the Parks Department, and pest control workers; and that’s just the short list.

Bettering Yourself, Inside and On Paper

I talk about it all the time – acts of kindness are good for your health.  So, it should come as no surprise that volunteering has an expansive list of health benefits.  AmeriCorps, one of America’s largest volunteer agencies, provides research to back this up.

“This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

– Corporation for National and Community Service, Office of Research and Policy
Development. The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research

It may be hard to get excited about health benefits now.  But you can feel an immediate effect on your resume.  I admit, having worked as a stay-home parent for 20 years, my resume has some massive holes.  Gaining experience and contacts in my new city is helping fill them in.

Where Do I Sign Up?

I know.  It can seem daunting trying to figure out where you can help, especially if you feel like you don’t have an obviously valuable skill.  Am I an expert gardener?  Um, no.  My education is in healthcare administration.  But I do have strong organizational skills and know how to pick up trash.  So, I’m holding my own with these new friends.

I found my opportunity by reading our neighborhood newsletter.  You can check public spaces like libraries, churches, city hall, and community centers.  Or if you’re particularly interested in a business or group – just ask!  You never know what need they may have – especially when you’re offering free labor.

I also came across this great website,  Input your address, and it connects you with a variety of in-person and online opportunities.  In my neighborhood, there were requests for 9/11 Museum volunteers, TED Talk Translators and music teachers.  I tried smaller cities and still came across a wide range of options, including soup kitchens, pet shelters and teaching English to immigrants.

Click to get matched today.

Consider choosing a bigger life and look for a way to show kindness through your own community.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

What are some ways you give back to your community?

1 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *