Samuel Kahn has served as a trustee for both schools and charities to support local communities. Running community outreach programs involves several steps and a secure management system. From learning how to organize community involvement, Samuel Kahn understands what it takes to create a positive presence.

Community outreach via education

Community Outreach vs. Community Service

Community outreach and community service are not always the same. Community service is performed to benefit a local community overall. This type of service has the potential to be completed from a remote location. Examples of this would include hosting a clothing drive at school or cleaning up trash after a park event.

Community outreach generally includes professional services. Professional services may not have the exchange of money, but specialized knowledge is necessary. Professionals with specific expertise can help larger groups of people. This may include work such as dental services or education.

How To Conduct Community Outreach

Community organizations can create a positive and long-lasting impact on neighborhood development. This type of development can be physical or mental. By creating a physical developmental change in a neighborhood, parks and public libraries can be renovated. A mental development shapes the way the community responds to social or educational issues.

Organizing community outreach can feel overwhelming at first. Unlike individual volunteering, community outreach involves multiple people working together for a common purpose. Since no one person is the same, differing opinions and styles can get in the way of volunteering.

Before starting an outreach project, it’s helpful to have an official outline. This outline can detail what it is that needs to be communicated about the organization’s mission. It also examines the process in a step-by-step method. Research and statistics are usually necessary for organization leaders to succeed.

Communication

Communicating with a group of people takes proficient listening skills. To understand what the community truly needs, multiple members must speak up. Complaints and concerns are common during this stage and are all useful in the decision-making process. When talking with others, staying open to new ideas and opportunities is key.

Respect

Setting a respectful tone will help mobilize community members. Seeing the value in all people can benefit when assigning different tasks that may be critical down the road. For neighborhoods with a non-English speaking majority, having a translator is important.

Keeping in touch with individuals is another way to show they are a priority. Having a list of phone numbers and email addresses often proves invaluable during a community project.

Volunteering kids

How To Involve Children

Children can also help create a thriving community. To address injustice or a lack of resources, all kinds of participation are needed.

Volunteer At A Nursing Home

Older children are able to visit many community nursing homes. There are a variety of activities they can participate in, including just listening.

Some elderly care facilities have a “game day” that is designated for children to play board games with older adults. This can include Chess or word games that help improve the mind as well as the spirit. Adults in advanced care hospitals or nursing homes often enjoy the energy and youth they see in childhood.

Donate Unused Toys

Children grow up fast. Toys that were bought six months or a year ago may no longer hold an interest. Childhood development relies on new stimulation and older toys they have outgrown may no longer hold an appeal.

Instead of throwing away old toys, helping a child donate them can teach them a charitable mindset. Helping others does not have to take lots of time or effort. If unused items could be of value to others, a child will remember this in the future.

Clean Up The Block

Cleaning an entire community is not necessary to make a positive difference. Encouraging children to help clean up their own block or neighborhood is one way to show that small choices add up.

If trash is not a problem in the community, mowing lawns or weeding gardens can also help improve the landscape. This type of activity can be done on a weekend when there is a solid chunk of available time or throughout the week.

Read To Younger Children

Reading development evolves throughout childhood usually starting at the age of six. Older children who are proficient at reading can help younger students improve their vocabulary and imagination by reading.

Public and school libraries sometimes offer this outreach. If a community does not have a public library, the community center can help. Children that mentor other children also benefit from the responsibility and confidence it can bring.

Create Care Packages

Creating a care package is an especially thoughtful idea for the homeless population. Picking out soaps and food are only the basics of what this package can become. By encouraging a child’s creativity, they can use their imagination to help others.

A care package can usually be dropped off at homeless shelters or other designated areas in the community. Other places to leave care packages include public libraries and parks.

Community service work in a local area
photo credit: Neighborhood Centers Inc. / Flickr

Reaching Out To The Community As A Whole

Community involvement can include everyone in the neighborhood. Adults can provide donations or charitable work. Kids can volunteer for various community services. Those in need are able to benefit from those around them too. To keep a community feeling close and connected, communication and group organization are crucial.