Ways Families Can Help in the Community

December 10, 2015

During the holiday season, many people look for ways to get involved and give back to their community. However, many believe that volunteer opportunities only exist for adults or older children.

There are a number of ways that families as a whole can help in the community. Volunteering together can help families reconnect from their busy schedules while at the same time helping the community. It doesn’t have to be official, either; helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or passing out fliers advertising a safety initiative are some examples of less formal community involvement projects.

No matter how you choose to help, volunteering can help strengthen your family and your community. Below are some of the best ways for families to get out and get help.

1.Adopt a “grand friend”
Many assisted living home residents have families that live far away or visit infrequently. Spending time with a “grand friend” is something the entire family can enjoy. Whether you play games, do crafts, or just exchange stories, everyone can benefit from the extra time together.

2.Raise a service dog
You don’t have to be an obedience school expert to help train a service dog. Most service dogs do not begin their intensive training until they are one or two years old; until then, they are raised by regular families. While raising a service dog is a major commitment, it can also give your family a project to work on together.

3.Organize a community event
With our busy lives, many of us do not have the time to get to know our neighbors as well as we’d like. However, you can get your family and the neighborhood involved in organizing a community event! Whether it’s a toy swap, book drive, block party, or co-op, creating a group in your neighborhood is a great way to foster a sense of community. The Center for a New American Dream has a guide to help families share with their neighbors (You can find it here: http://www.newdream.org/programs/collaborative-communities/community-act....

4.Clean up the neighborhood
Grab some gloves, trash bags, and a pickup tool such as a grabber and head out to clean your neighborhood. Picking up trash or debris from streets, parks, or wildlife areas not only makes your community more beautiful, but can fit into a busy schedule.

5.Write a letter to a service member
Even the youngest members of your family can enjoy drawing pictures for or writing to deployed service members. Programs like Operation Gratitude [http://www.operationgratitude.com/] have resources for families wishing to get involved sending care packages or letters.

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Thank You from LA25 to all participants of Fall Fest 2015!

December 31, 1969

LA25 would like to thank all those who donated to the 2015 Fall Fest! Special thanks to Hermosa Design for all their hard work and dedication in hosting, planning, and pulling every detail of the event together for a successful evening.

We also appreciate all the artists, shops, and businesses who participated by donating a portion of their sales from the evening or raffle items. A bulk of the money was raised through raffle ticket sales!

A BIG thank you to all the participants of the 2015 Fall Fest!

Artists:
Broza Photo, Michael Harrington, E Smith Images, Fish at Sea, Noon Pacific, Lee Clarke

Lifestyle:
Beach & Beverly, Shryne Design, Beauty Counter, Epos Inc, Freitag, Iittala, Mondaine, Nava Design, Roros Tweed, Sagaform, Umbra Shift

Craft Food & Drinks:
King Harbor Brewery, Strand Brewing Co, El Segundo Brewing Co, Uncorked, Bettolino Kitchen, Cake Bakeshop, Doma Kitchen, Goodwish Chocolate, Med Kitchen & Bar

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The Benefits of Volunteering

December 20, 2015

Between work, home, family, and friends, most of us already feel like our schedules are packed to the brim. Because of this, fewer and fewer people are taking the time to volunteer.

“Volunteering is so pervasive it's invisible,” says Susan J Ellis, author and president of Energize [https://www.energizeinc.com/]. “We take for granted all the things that have been pioneered by concerned, active volunteers.”

If even your schedule feels full, volunteering a little – or a lot – of your time can have surprising benefits. With so many ways to get involved, it is possible for everyone to take the first step towards volunteering! Below are five of the most compelling benefits of volunteering.

1. Volunteering will make you feel less busy

While this may seem counterintuitive, volunteering can actually help you feel like you more free time. This is similar to the phenomenon in which people who donate to charities feel wealthier.
“The results show that giving your time to others can make you feel more ‘time affluent’ and less time-constrained than wasting your time, spending it on yourself, or even getting a windfall of free time,” wrote Wharton professor Cassie Mogilner in the Harvard Business Review [https://hbr.org/2012/09/youll-feel-less-rushed-if-you-give-time-away].

2.Volunteering helps you connect with others

Dedicating time as a volunteer can help you meet new friends and contacts as well as develop better interpersonal skills. Regularly volunteering with the same organization or group can help you meet others in your community who share common interests.

Whether its members of your own family or others in the community, volunteering can also help you develop better and more meaningful personal relationships. Studies have shown that families who volunteer together feel closer and more connected; likewise, volunteering shows children firsthand the importance of giving back to the community.

3. Volunteering builds your experience

If you’re just starting out in the job market or are looking to switch fields, volunteering is a great way to build experience. For students, volunteering can help build and develop a resume or provide a more flexible alternative to a traditional part time job. Likewise, adults may find it useful to volunteer in a field before committing to a new career path.

4. Volunteering is good for your body and spirit

According to the Corporation for National & Community Service [http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf], “Research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better health… those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.”

People who volunteer weekly are 16% more likely to consider themselves “very happy”; even those who volunteer on a monthly basis are still 7% more likely to say they are “very happy”. Volunteering can also be good for your body; many volunteer organizations encourage you to get up and out into the community. Whether it’s building houses or working on an outdoor environmental project, volunteering can provide a way to keep your body more active.

5. Volunteering lets you choose how to be involved

With thousands of different organizations, positions, and opportunities, there is a volunteer position for everyone. Whether you want to work with people, animals, indoors, outdoors, or do something completely unique, there are deserving organizations in every community that are looking for new volunteers. Taking the time to find an organization you are truly passionate about, can turn a one-time volunteer opportunity into a lifetime of giving back.

No matter how you choose to give back, volunteering can benefit both you and your community.

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How to Make Giving a Part of Your New Year

December 22, 2015

As 2015 comes to a close, many of us are looking forward to what 2016 will bring. For most of us, celebrating the arrival of the New Year also means making resolutions.

This year, instead of vowing to get to the gym more or eat fewer carbs, make a resolution to make giving a part of your New Year. Resolving to give back to others not only helps you on your personal journey towards self-improvement, but it also has the added benefit of helping the community – and our world – as a whole.

The following are five easy ways to commit to getting involved in the New Year.

1. Make concrete plans

Many well-intentioned resolutions have failed because they are abstract ideas more than concrete plans. To better commit to giving back, purposefully schedule a volunteer opportunity during the first few weeks of the New Year. Whether it’s spending a day at the animal shelter or a long weekend cleaning out your closets for the local rescue mission, getting involved early will set you up for a full year of giving back.

Resolution: I will commit to at least one volunteering opportunity during the month of January.

2. Sign up for monthly giving

If your hectic lifestyle doesn’t leave you much time to spend volunteering, consider committing to making a monthly donation to the charity of your choice. Most organizations have options for planned giving; signing up to give a monthly donation is a way to give a gift that can transform lives and help improve your community.

Resolution: I will help make the world a better place by giving a monthly gift to my favorite charity.

3. Ask for donations in lieu of gifts

Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, holiday, or other celebration, our year is full of gift giving opportunities. If you feel like your house is already overflowing with stuff, consider asking friends and family to make donations instead. Host a giving party [http://www.punchbowl.com/p/how-to-host-a-giving-party]; in lieu of traditional gifts, ask friends and family to bring donations for your favorite charity instead. Examples might be collecting coloring books and games for a children’s hospital or treats and toys for an animal shelter.
Resolution: I will collect donations for my favorite charity instead of gifts for one holiday this year.

4. Give alternative gifts

In the same spirit of asking for donations instead of gifts, consider giving an alternative gift to family and friends. This is perfect for the person in your life who already has everything! Organizations like Heifer International [http://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/entire-catalog.html] offer the ability to give livestock, provide basic necessities, and even promote women’s empowerment in developing communities around the world. The same $20 you’d spend on a video game or novel can provide a flock of geese, ducks, or chicks to a family, giving them a hand up through a sustainable livelihood.

Resolution: Instead of buying another gift card, I will make a donation in someone’s honor [https://www.globalgiving.org/gifts/inhonor.html] this year.

5. Get the whole family involved

While some volunteer opportunities are designed for adults, there are many ways for the whole family [http://www.yeskidzcan.com/linkswelike.html ] to get involved in giving back. Not only does volunteering together bring your family closer, but it also helps children develop an understanding of the importance of philanthropy.
Resolution: This year, I’ll pick a charity or event that the whole family can get involved with.

This year, make a resolution you’ll actually keep by committing to giving back to the community. If everyone gets involved – even in a small way – we can make 2016 a year of giving!

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