Newsletter: It's a small world after all

by Sharon Gavin

Within hours after the massive earthquake struck Haiti, people around the world were sending news and images of the devastation – along with their thoughts, hopes, fears, and wishes – out to others using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. They were also looking for ways to help or send aid to Haiti, and finding those via their respective online communities, as well. In fact, within two days of the quake more than $2 million had been raised for Haitian relief efforts through text messaging alone.

That’s the power of a community: the members look out for each other, respond to each other, aren’t afraid to share ideas, show concern, ask for or offer assistance.

Community is a word we hear a lot, but is difficult to define. We often think of communities as places – where we live, work, or go to school. But communities come in many shapes and sizes, and are often built around shared interests, ideas, or ideals. Also, as demonstrated with the Haiti disaster as well as more local events like the fire at the Marysville school in Portland, communities can come together quickly to take action.

There are plenty of reasons we don’t get involved in communities. We’re too busy, too tired, already overcommitted. News flash: throughout history people have always been busy and tired at the end of the day, yet they still found ways to organize a certain Tea Party in Boston; campaign for their right to vote; fight discrimination; build schools; celebrate successes.

It does no good to complain about the state of your block, your neighborhood, your schools, or your town without being willing to work to make change happen. And while supplies and equipment are often necessary to bring about change, what’s needed first – and most – is a sense of community.

It doesn’t all have to be done in one day, and it doesn’t all have to be done by you. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Most of the individuals who are making donations to help in Haiti are giving what they can, usually around $5 or $10, but all those donations together add up quickly. Similarly, if you – and the other members of your community – offer what you can to help reach your shared ideal, a lot can be accomplished.

Pick your passion, get involved; make a difference in your community today.

Posted on January 26, 2010 in Volunteering, Civic Engagement.