Amidst the hustle and bustle of big cities, it can be easy to feel disconnected from the traditional sense of community that brings us together. Cities face their own unique challenges, and in turn offer a vast number of opportunities for service-minded city dwellers to get involved and improve their local communities through volunteerism. Here are some ideas to get your started:
1. Start or join a community garden
Many urban spaces contain “food deserts” – areas in which it is difficult to buy affordable or high-quality fresh and healthy food, especially without access to a vehicle. One way of addressing this is to start or contribute to a community garden. Find a garden near you or get tips to start your own.
2. Volunteer at a public school
Cities have lots of schools, and they all could use a few more volunteers. Get connected with your local schools by spending time in the classroom, participating in tutoring programs, or leading afterschool activities.
3. Serve at a soup kitchen
Help feed low-income families or people experiencing homelessness by volunteering at your local food bank or soup kitchen. Especially in large cities, these organizations need a lot of volunteers to help meet high demand for their services. Find a Feeding America food bank near you, or search for a local kitchen in your community to get involved.
4. Adopt a block
Is there an area – such as the street in front of your apartment or your favorite park – that you’d like to help maintain and keep litter-free, find out if your city has an Adopt-a-Block/Park/Street program that will allow you to take on responsibility for that space. And, even if there is no official program, there’s nothing to stop you from pitching in to keep it clean!
5. Get involved in community advocacy
One of the benefits of living in a city is that it is easy to engage in the political process. Support the issues and organizations that you care about by showing up to city council meetings and public forums, or volunteer your time with a local political office or advocacy group.
6. Show up for service events
One great thing about living in the city is that there’s always something exciting going on. There are plenty of service opportunities, too. Get in touch with your favorite organizations to see what they have coming up, or check out AllForGood.org to find upcoming volunteer opportunities in your city.