Our neighborhoods thrive on the volunteers who give their time and talents to our neighborhoods. When we volunteer in our neighborhoods, on projects and events (like cleanups, painting fences, cleaning gutters, landscaping, ice cream socials, Neighborhood Night Out, etc.), everyone matters and every hour volunteered makes a difference. To make improvements that we desire to have around us, we have to come together. That’s where a neighborhood association comes in. Volunteer-leaders are the glue and the strength of our neighborhood associations. Many voices collaborating get things done.
A more connected community stems from volunteers. To commit our time, the value of the result has to be important to each of us. A result that is important to me is when my neighbors have a place to be heard; a place that is safe for them to share a concern or share an idea. You will discover some brilliant and talented neighbors when you sit together and talk about what’s going on around your homes.
It can be daunting to find the volunteers needed to build up your Neighborhood Association. So, how do we get people to volunteer? Ask them!
Few people will volunteer for something all on their own. They need to be asked. In fact, some of your neighbors are just waiting to be asked! It may be old-fashioned, but there is no substitute for talking face-to-face. When and how do you do that? We can sit down and talk about this and it will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.
When you do ask, be clear what you are asking for. If you have open seats on committees, or board positions, develop a short description of what the committee or the position does and what is required. It’s always good to be specific. I’m guilty of “whatever you want to do will be great and appreciated.” Well, that doesn’t give anyone an idea of what they could do or where they are needed. Also, don’t be afraid to ask a neighbor what they enjoy doing. Some people have a lot to offer and are looking for opportunities to share what they do or know. To have a successful association we need a wide variety of interests and skills. We can sit and talk about this too.
When you are volunteering, you meet new people who sometimes become your new best friend! This is truly one of best benefits of volunteering. If you feel stuck in the same routine, or lonely, consider checking the calendar for an event in your neighborhood, or even a nearby neighborhood, and sign up to help, or just attend the event or the meeting. The only qualification required to volunteer with your Neighborhood Association is a willing heart. Smiles are welcome too.
Let us know if we can help connect you to your neighborhood association leaders. A few years ago, the City’s Planning & Development department implemented a program called Great Neighborhoods. Learn about the program at springfieldmo.gov/greatneighborhoods and ask at your next neighborhood meeting if the program’s principles are being implemented in your neighborhood.