Research shows that helping others will make you happy.
Goodness knows we all need it. But, wait. There’s more! The added benefit of doing community service after you move? It’s a great way to meet people. Start helping others now and reap the benefits. It feels good to be selfish sometimes.
7 Ways to Get Involved in Community Service in a New City
Disclosure: I am affiliated with The Kindness Connection.
Volunteer for a Team-Based Activity
When you’re new in town, you may be interested in helping others, but you don’t know where to start. First, go online to check out volunteer opportunities in your area. Some useful websites include: Volunteer Match, Points of Light, and Idealist. In the Chicago area, The Honeycomb Project provides volunteer opportunities for families. Search for similar organizations in your city. You can also volunteer to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. Construction experience is not required and it’s a fun way to meet new people.
Start a Food or Clothing Drive
If you just moved to a new apartment, post up a flyer in the building about your drive. To use it as a way to meet people, write:
Hi! I’m Sarah in Apt. B. I’ll be collecting gently used coats for One Warm Coat. Please leave the items outside your door on Sunday, Dec.11 and I’ll stop by to collect everything at noon. You can also drop it off at Apt. B any time. Thanks for your generosity! – Sarah
If you have school-age children, it may be difficult to compete with the many drives hosted by school and children’s organizations. However, it doesn’t hurt to try. Also, reach out to someone to see if they would like to help you deliver the items. This is another good bonding opportunity.
Create a Meetup Group with a Purpose
Visit Meetup.com to see if there are any groups that fit your community service goals. If not, start your own. Surprisingly, Meetup doesn’t list a separate category for volunteering. Try to tailor your activity to one of the pre-set categories to reach a maximum number of people. For example, if you want to volunteer at an animal shelter, add it to the “Pets” category. If you plan on helping out a book bank, list it under “Book Clubs”. It can get lost in the shuffle if you put it under “Social” since everything could fall under that category.
Reach Out to Your Local Place of Worship
Religious organizations provide volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Helping others this way gives you the chance to connect with people of your same faith. The more you get to know your community, the greater sense of joy and belonging you will feel at other religious gatherings. It’s a win-win.
Start a Lemonade Stand or Garage Sale for a Cause
If you want to meet your neighbors, get them to come to you. Set up a lemonade stand with the kids or advertise a garage sale with all proceeds going to a specified charity. If you’ve already gotten rid of everything because of your move (hopefully, you did!), you can reach out to neighbors to do a neighborhood sale. If you handle the logistics, many people would love to participate.
Host a “Helping Others” Party at Your House
There’s something special about inviting people into your home that helps create stronger friendships. Send out an evite to knit scarves for the homeless (no-knit scarves if it’s a one night event) or create care packages for deployed service members. Decorate Cards for Kindness or make holiday cards. Ask around at local non-profit organizations to see if someone would like a new bench or repurposed furniture. Invite friends over for a DIY workshop. Create artwork to donate to a hospital or an assisted living facility. Buy community service in a box and invite your child’s friends over for a volunteering and craft party. Find a fun activity that could work well in a group and tie it to a charity that you believe in.
Volunteer for an Organization on an Ongoing Basis
Once you’ve settled into your new city, you may be ready to make a greater commitment to a cause. Figure out what speaks to you. Do you love helping animals, reading to the elderly, or working with the sick? Whether you want to help the environment, children, or veterans, non-profit organizations always need your help. Making a weekly or monthly commitment will help you in more ways than you can imagine. You’re going to be feeling pretty good at the end of the day and you’ll make some new friends.
Why Helping Others Creates Bonds that Tie
It’s great to meet people through taking adult classes or conquering Pokémon Go. It’s not quite the same as fighting together for a cause. When you’re helping others, you feel good and so do the people around you. It’s a virtuous circle of kindness. You will also be focused on a specific task, which makes it easier to connect when compared to making small talk at the water cooler. Take advantage of these feel-good moments to form friendships. Remember to be selfish and start helping others this holiday season.