Community Service Society Village Ethic

A few years ago a book came out called “It Takes a Village” that created a stir.  But the stir was probably because the author was Hillary Clinton more than the topic itself.  But in this book Mrs. Clinton advanced the theory that in society, much of what we do that has value, including raising children is not just the work of individuals.  It takes community action to make things of lasting value happen.”

This concept may have had some political reason for being written but Mrs. Clinton did introduce into the public mind that phrase which is really an outstanding summary of why community service works so well.  The key word in community service is community.  When a group of people come together for a shared purpose to do something good for the community in which they live, that is a special moment.  Not only does it foster tremendous good will in the team and for those who are beneficiaries of the community spirit but it inspires others who see these good things happening to get involved.

If you live in a city of any large size, we have more trouble thinking of our community as a ‘village”.  And to some extent the size of the city might also have an influence over your willingness to get involved in community service projects.  But there is a way to view even life in the big city in such a way that you can find good reasons to make a contribution.

Even if you live in one of the large metropolitan areas of the country, the truth is, we all to some extent live in a village.  You have a limited area that you travel for the most part.  Most of us go to the same grocery stores, play at the same parks, attend the same church each week and use a limited number of streets even if you live in surrounded by one of the biggest cities in the country.  Philadelphia, one of the largest cities in the country, is known as the “city of neighborhoods.”  And within those neighborhoods everybody knows each other and life is localized.  In a way, those neighborhoods are right in the middle of a big city.

So, you too live in a village within the large city around you.  And within that village, you can see ways that you can make a contribution to the lives you touch and that touch yours.  Some great community service ideas that you can look for that will affect your ‘village” might be…

1. You learn from your child that the family of one of his friends cannot afford to repair their porch.  You can mobilize the parents of many of the children in that class and show up there on a Saturday with a surprise porch repair crew.  That kind of spontaneous event will bring bonding to just that ‘village” of parents of kids in that school room that could build friendships that will last a lifetime.

2. You find out that a family owned business is going to have to go out of business because they cannot bring their building up to code.  You can circulate a petition of the many customers who love that business like you do and organize a fund raising campaign to get that building fixed.  This doesn’t just have to be about money.  You can get everybody into the act having yard sales, bake sales and doing other fund raising events to keep that wonderful family owned operation a part of your community for a long time to come.

3. A local church has all of their beautiful stained glass windows blown out by a tornado.  You can use your research skills and the skills of other business people to find some replacement windows in a defunct church and get them sent to your community to make that church beautiful again.

All of these things make life better in the streets and community centers of the area of town where you live.  And when you pitch in and make your little area of the world a better place to live, the good feelings and friendships you build have positive effects that are beyond measure.  And above all you took the time to be of help so can say even with Hilary Clinton that it really does take a village.

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