GIV­ING FOR GOOD

Make an im­pact in your com­mu­nity

Escalon Times - - 209 LIVING -

In­spi­ra­tion to give back to your com­mu­nity can come from any num­ber of places, from a per­sonal de­sire to make a dif­fer­ence to ful­fill­ing a grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ment for com­mu­nity ser­vice hours. No mat­ter the rea­son or the ori­gin, chances are strong that you can make an im­pact.

Giv­ing back may be as sim­ple as writ­ing a check to an or­ga­ni­za­tion that works to fur­ther a mis­sion you care deeply about. Or it may mean lend­ing a hand to put on a fundrais­ing event in your com­mu­nity. Per­haps you have a skill or tal­ent you can share with oth­ers in the name of a good cause.

If you're com­mit­ted to con­tribut­ing to your com­mu­nity in a mean­ing­ful way, con­sider one of th­ese ideas to im­prove the lives of those around you:

Spend Time with the El­derly

Se­niors of­ten hold wis­dom, knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence that younger gen­er­a­tions have yet to ac­cu­mu­late. Yet, as they age, a com­mu­nity's old­est res­i­dents are of­ten left alone. Th­ese days it's less com­mon for fam­ily mem­bers to live near one an­other, so “adopt­ing” an el­derly res­i­dent down the street or at the lo­cal se­nior hous­ing cen­ter is a way to help mon­i­tor his or her well-be­ing and en­sure per­sonal ties to the com­mu­nity are main­tained. Not only can this pro­vide a valu­able ser­vice for an el­derly per­son and his or her fam­ily, it may bring you great per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion as you learn about the com­mu­nity's his­tory through the eyes of some­one who saw it evolve first­hand.

Do­nate to Non­prof­its

If you're con­cerned your bud­get doesn't stretch far enough to make a mean­ing­ful cash con­tri­bu­tion, there are plenty of other ways you can do­nate to non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions in your com­mu­nity. Vol­un­teer hours or even gen­tly used items like of­fice fur­ni­ture or sup­plies are of­ten in high de­mand. You can even do­nate by help­ing your fa­vorite non­profit un­cover new fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. For ex­am­ple, the Amer­ica's Farm­ers Grow Com­mu­ni­ties pro­gram, spon­sored by the Mon­santo Fund, pro­vides farm­ers an op­por­tu­nity to help a non­profit of their choice. El­i­gi­ble farm­ers can en­roll in the pro­gram for a chance to di­rect a do­na­tion to a lo­cal el­i­gi­ble non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. Since 2010, the pro­gram has shown a com­mit­ment to strength­en­ing farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties by award­ing more than $29 mil­lion to non­prof­its, sup­port­ing food banks, ag youth or­ga­ni­za­tions, sup­ply­ing es­sen­tials for the needy and ac­quir­ing life­sav­ing emer­gency re­sponse equip­ment.

Be a Men­tor

Much as you can gain valu­able wis­dom from el­derly res­i­dents, you also likely have your own knowl­edge that can ben­e­fit oth­ers in your com­mu­nity. Con­sider the ar­eas where you ex­cel and ex­plore how your com­mu­nity can ben­e­fit. You might put your ath­letic tal­ents to use coach­ing a youth sports team, teach scouts a skill for ad­vance­ment or lend your ex­pe­ri­ence as a hu­man re­sources pro­fes­sional to an or­ga­ni­za­tion that helps dis­ad­van­taged in­di­vid­u­als im­prove their em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. If you're good with num­bers, maybe vol­un­teer­ing as a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor to a lo­cal non­profit board is worth con­sid­er­ing.

Help Cre­ate Fu­ture Lead­ers

If the fu­ture vi­tal­ity and well­be­ing of your com­mu­nity is a pri­or­ity, your giv­ing may in­volve cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Pro­grams like Amer­ica's Farm­ers Grow Ag Lead­ers, spon­sored by the Mon­santo Fund, en­cour­age ru­ral youth to be­come the next gen­er­a­tion of ag lead­ers by award­ing schol­ar­ships to sup­port their pur­suit of higher ed­u­ca­tion in ag-re­lated fields of study. The schol­ar­ships are ad­min­is­tered by the Na­tional FFA Or­ga­ni­za­tion, but stu­dents do not have to be FFA mem­bers to ap­ply. Since 2014, the pro­gram has awarded more than $2 mil­lion in schol­ar­ships for stu­dents look­ing to study ag-re­lated fields after high school.

Plant Flower Beds

Mak­ing a com­mu­nity bet­ter isn't al­ways about dol­lars and cents. Sim­ply mak­ing your home­town a more en­joy­able place to be is a re­ward you can en­joy along with your neigh­bors. Spe­cial beau­ti­fi­ca­tion projects such as cre­at­ing and main­tain­ing flower beds in pub­lic spa­ces can help cre­ate a more wel­com­ing, friendly en­vi­ron­ment. Other ideas in­clude com­mu­nity cleanup ini­tia­tives and or­ga­niz­ing groups to help with yard­work for those who are phys­i­cally un­able.

Get In­volved in Schools

Nearly ev­ery school dis­trict can ben­e­fit from added re­sources to sup­port youth ed­u­ca­tion. You may be able to help your school se­cure fund­ing for a spe­cial ini­tia­tive through a pro­gram such as Amer­ica's Farm­ers Grow Ru­ral Ed­u­ca­tion, spon­sored by the Mon­santo Fund, which al­lows farm­ers to nom­i­nate lo­cal pub­lic school dis­tricts to com­pete for mer­it­based STEM grants. Nom­i­nated schools have the op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply for a grant to fund projects that en­hance sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math ed­u­ca­tion in their dis­tricts. Since 2011, more than $16 mil­lion has been awarded to over 900 ru­ral school dis­tricts.

Farm­ers can find more ways to give back to their com­mu­ni­ties along with pro­gram in­for­ma­tion and of­fi­cial rules at Amer­i­c­as­Farm­ers.com.

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