If you think about the great expanse that is the United States, there are about 35,000 cities and towns, and of that number, only about 4,000 of those are considered “cities” as defined by a population of 10,000 or more permanent residents. Definitions vary depending where you go, but using this figure as a measure, the majority, like my town, don’t have a high population.
When you support local businesses with your time or your money, you are supporting your neighbors. You are investing in your local economy and helping the community thrive. Local businesses provide alternative options to large chains. No, you might not be able to pick up your favorite flavor of Jell-O at the local mom-and-pop shop, but keeping your neighbors in business benefits you.
Since October 2015, I have served on the Board of Directors at Wood River Health Services in Hope Valley, RI. When I was seeking volunteer opportunities within my small community, this seemed like a natural fit based on my professional experience. Our mission at WRHS is “to improve the health and well-being of our community by assuring access to affordable high quality healthcare, coordinated services, and health related information.”
Giving of your time takes you out of yourself, at the same time provides a window in to yourself. Placing focus on an issue or cause that is important to you not only benefits that cause but also benefits you in your own personal growth. Suze Orman has spoken about volunteering. You should choose wisely where to place your focus. Identify the benefits you get from volunteering. Does it support your career? Does it help you advance your own skill development, all the while making a difference? I like to think WRHS gains from my experience and in return I learn from my peers on the Board.
Regardless of how you spend your time, professionally or personally, make sure it is something you are passionate about. People can tell when you love what you do.