Spark Your Community with Service
The Fourth of July is a time for cookouts, fireworks and celebrating our country’s freedom. Add to the festivities by helping your community members gain—or maintain—their independence this summer.
Offer a ride, help someone in their job search or find other ways to do good. Your service can spark independence for a community member and make a big difference.
Get as much as you give
There may be a feeling you get when you spend time caring for your neighbors. You may have heard of a runner’s high—and the same applies to service. According to experts, Oxytocin, a hormone that helps regenerate heart cells damaged by stress, is also released when you help others. And a recent study showed that in the course of a year, overly-stressed adults who cared for someone else had lower mortality rates.
Cultivate a caring mindset
Ensure that your neighbors know they’re part of the community: Organize a party in your backyard or in a community space, and invite the whole neighborhood. Plan a community food drive, book drive or school supply drive. Or get your community involved in a giving circle, and vote to see where your pooled time and resources go.
You can also ask your local library or literacy council about volunteering to help adults sharpen their language skills. This can become a way to mentor community members whose first language isn’t English or others who want to brush up on their grammar.
If you prefer to help kids learn to read, you can volunteer with AARP Foundation Experience Corps, a national leader in engaging older adult tutors to improve K-3 student literacy and part of the AmeriCorps network. Helping kids excel through education is one of the best ways to encourage future independence—and success.
A host of ways to help
There’s a way to help no matter what time and energy you have to give. One-time offers with an errand, weekly commitments and bigger projects can all energize your community.
You could help your community members:
- Acquire public benefits by tracking down federal, state and private programs that help cover the cost of food, medicine and utilities. Start with our guide
- Keep up their homes. Start a survey of seniors in your area to find out which household chores are giving them the most trouble. Then post a volunteer sign up sheet at your local libraries, schools and other community centers. A stable home is a crucial step in maintaining independence.
- Find transportation by offering a ride, arranging one or helping navigate the car purchasing process. Cars can be crucial for many people: Having a vehicle at the ready means easier trips to the store, to doctor’s appointments and for emergencies.
- Perform home safety updates. One way is to make emergency kits . You can also get together a group of caring neighbors to help others prepare for an emergency, including photocopying important documents.
- Adopt healthy behaviors, like taking regular walks, and stress-coping techniques. Perhaps they’d be interested in gardening. Ask them if they’ve ever tested out their green thumb!
- Manage medication and medical records.
- Get free legal counsel. Start with America’s Partner for Equal Justice or the Department of Justice.
Start your summer with service
Summer is the perfect time to shine light on your service side. Find a volunteer opportunity near you to get started.
Care for a Caregiver
Sometimes the folks who need the most help are caregivers. When you support a caregiver, you're helping both that person and the loved one they care for.
Mentor a nearby family
For some people, gaining more independence means coming to a new country. You can mentor a refugee family in your community by reaching out to the International Rescue Committee.
Help others stay cool
Find waysto help friends and neighbors stay safe during extreme heat here.