Connect with Compassion: 20 Ways to Make a Difference

by Donna McBride, Councilwoman, City of Casa Grande

April is National Volunteer Month. Every year people jump at the chance to do something special to highlight the month. But what about the other 11 months of the year? Could we possibly do something all year long?

Volunteering isn’t just about donating money, starting a special campaign or project. It can be something simple.

It isn’t just to help others but to help ourselves. We don’t need an excuse or a special month to connect and create change around us.

Each of us reflects one piece of a puzzle. When we connect with one another, we create the “bigger picture.” Sometimes it’s something, like that puzzle piece, that is right in front of us but we can’t find it. Here’s a great way to start.

If you do just one thing a month from this list — you will fill up your year, and heart, with compassion.

  1. Make it a habit to respect everyone — This includes while driving, walking, interacting with people in line. Small ripples of respect can make a big difference in your community.
  2. Dedicate a day to help out a friend with their goals — We all have talents and dreams. Why not help those you care about reach their full potential?
  3. Random acts of kindness — Whether it’s wheeling out a neighbor’s trash bin, clearing weeds, opening the door for a stranger, saying hello to at least one new person a day, set the goal to be kind.
  4. Be the person who welcomes a new neighbor — Peering out your window wondering who is this new person moving in next door? Go say hi!
  5. Write a positive review about a local business — Few are more dependent on the local community than small shops. Make the business owner’s day by posting something positive.
  6. Ask senior citizens about their past — They have a lifetime of wisdom to share. Storytelling from their eyes will benefit you just as much as it will benefit them.
  7. Share your musical talent — Spark creativity by teaching skills to kids, or perhaps offer to play for folks at a retirement community.
  8. Bake a smile — Making some cupcakes? Save a couple extra to share with a friend or neighbor. A treat for no reason is the best!
  9. Mentor someone — Sometimes the only thing a person needs is a mentor to guide them. Be that person. Then challenge them to pass it on!
  10. Pick it up — Next time you take a walk around your neighborhood, school grounds or the park, take a small grocery bag with you. If you see trash, pick it up. One small bag can make a difference.
  11. Leave a surprise in a book — Imagine the smile someone would have to find a homemade bookmark, card or note from a complete stranger. It can be a book you donate, a magazine at the doctor’s office, or at the library.
  12. Attend community meetings — Many times we want to change the world but forget to start local. Many important issues and solutions are being discussed every day at community meetings. Keep in mind it’s better to be for something or a solution than against.
  13. Start a club — Have you ever thought, I wish there was a _________ in this town. Go out and make it happen.
  14. Start with your own family — Is there a nephew who needs some extra attention? Is there an aunt whose car needs an oil change? Compassion isn’t just for strangers.
  15. Get off your phone and look around — If you spend more time on social media than talking to a real person, maybe it’s time to get off your phone and see what is going on around you.
  16. Compliment a parent — Ever notice a well-behaved child in the store or restaurant? Share it with the parent — this could be the compliment to make a parent’s day.
  17. Help someone get active — We all need to move, so offer to walk with a friend or create your own neighborhood walking club to support each other.
  18. Let someone cut in front of you in line — Not in a hurry? Let someone cut in front of you. They might be in a hurry or have lots going on in their life. Your gesture could make all the difference to their day.
  19. Get lost at the library — There are so many things you can explore at the library. Books, movies, music, free classes. It’s endless. And it’s free, free, free!
  20. Create a Kindness Jar — Write down positive acts when someone does something kind for you. Put it in the jar. It will be a great pick-me-up when you are having a bad day. You could even share what you wrote with those who made it happen and return their kindness. This can be done by yourself, your family or even friends. Kindness is contagious!