We are days away from one of the most heated elections in our lifetimes. I am sure I am not the only one that feels so over all of the ridiculous debating, drama, and nonsense we have witnessed this year It is so hard to feel involved or that your vote matters in election years like this. As extremely important as it is to vote on the national level there are more ways to make your voice heard and feel like your vote actually counts.
One of the best things you can do for your community is to educate yourself on the candidates running locally and the ballot issues that affect your community. There are several ways to see what is on your ballot this year but a great resource is BallotPedia. Simply type in your address and it will show everything that’s on your ballot. Do not just vote for the big name candidates and offices. Complete your ballot and vote for what/who you feel is best for your community.
Another great way to get involved with your community is to volunteer at local nonprofit organizations. In Lee’s Summit, we have so many wonderful organizations that do wonderful things in and around our community. From volunteering, to donating money or goods, contributing to your local community organizations is a win. It is also an amazing way to teach and show your children the importance of giving back. This time of year is a great time to start some holiday traditions of gifting your time to help others. If you’re not familiar with any programs or agencies in your area, use Volunteer Match to find something you’re passionate about and start today.
After you’ve voted and volunteered, it is important for you to grow your own community. Building a community will have such a positive impact on your child’s (and your) life! Community gives you and your family a support system. From swapping childcare, to providing meals the support that comes from a community will provide you with such sense of belonging. The connections that you develop within your community are more than just dinners and emergency childcare. Surrounding yourself with community will make you feel valued, help children learn how to act in social situations by being around others. Teaching children the importance of sharing and caring for others within your community is so important for their growth and development. And for your sanity!
The hardest part of being involved in your community is finding it! It is a lot easier with social media. One of the best (and easiest) ways to get involved is to join some local parenting groups on Facebook. Get involved with their activities. As the founder of the biggest and active groups in my community, one of the questions I get asked the most is how do you find community?
My best advice is to not give up! Go to all the play dates, go to library story times, say hi at the park, participate in local family events. I know it is intimidating and scary to put yourself out there, but it is so worth it once you begin to make in real life connections. It might not happen at your first play date or even your fifth or sixth, but please stick with it. Building community takes time. If you’re coming into an event where you feel awkward, I can promise you that you are not the only one. If there are families there that are already friends and have found their community remember that it took them time, too. They were all once in your shoes. Putting themselves out there and getting to know each other. Dive in and go for it! Find your community!
Moving to the Kansas City area and not knowing anyone, or anything to do was one of the most challenging situations in my life. The isolation and loneliness consumed me as a new mother. I am so glad I took the steps to get involved in my community, learn about my local leaders and issues that were important, discovering organizations where I know my time and contributions benefited my local community made me feel connected. Stepping out of my comfort zone and building a community for me and my family not only made the transition to the Midwest so much easier but has made this wonderful area home.
Put your community first, I promise you will be glad you did!