Hungry for Change
When I was a child, sitting around the breakfast table with my family, my grandmother posed a seemingly simple question. “What kind of world do you want to live in, Katie?” In between bites, I rambled on about my hope to live in a world free of hardship, loneliness, and heartache - my youthful optimism emboldening me to think big. My grandmother listened intently, and made a comment that has stuck with me to this day. “Good. I would expect that you will work hard so that not only you, but others around you are able to enjoy a life like that as well.”
My grandmother was fiercely outspoken in her advocacy for inequality, injustice and hardship. I was always curious about how we could fix the problems in our world that seemed to have no easy solution, and under her guidance, my own passion for community engagement was born.
It is universally understood that civic engagement is a key component of a thriving community.
While it is easy to bury our heads in the sand and assume that involvement is the responsibility of others, collective action is powerful, and through unity we can be a part of creating change and building community. My question to you is, what are you doing with your hands? Is apathy hindering you from taking action? My intention is not to shame you, but rather to encourage you. To borrow the sentiments of Nelson Mandela:
I hope that your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.
We all want to live in a vibrant Waikato, where individuals from all walks of life have the chance to thrive, succeed, and grow. Whatever your hope is for our community, I hope that it fuels you to step more deeply into the things you are passionate about and address the needs that you think are important.
I’ve been working in a number of organisations within the Waikato over the last few years - StarJam, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hamilton, and The Serve, to name a few. Being able to be a part of something which directly empowers others and builds community is such a wonderful gift. Not only am I provided with the opportunity to build community and advocate for others, but involvement in these organisations has enabled me to build relationships, network, and socialise with people who wouldn’t otherwise cross my path. There is something out there to suit everyone's interests, calendar and lifestyle.
The best way to figure out how you can be involved is by asking yourself three questions:
1. What do you love to do?
What makes you happy? Is there any particular area you have a real heart for? (i.e. children, the mentally ill, refugees, animals etc) There are so many organisations in the Waikato that run based on community involvement. Serving others doesn’t have to be a chore, but can instead be a way to channel your own interests and passions into service.
2. What do you wish you could change?
It is so easy to become overwhelmed by the weight of the world’s problems - I’ll be the first to admit it. It seems like there is hardship everywhere you look, and the problems which face our community and wider world are multifaceted and complex. Instead of allowing yourself to become overwhelmed or frustrated, I would encourage you to think of love as a verb. By intentionally actioning this principle and using the problems in our community to motivate us, we can be part of creating change.
3. What can you give?
What can you offer to the community? Your time? Finances? Do you have any particular skill which would be useful to a community group? Aim to be self-evaluative and understand your own limitations and expectations, so that you don’t spread yourself too thin. It is better to commit conservatively, give it your all, and go from there if you want to do more.
It is our small actions that add up to create big changes in our own lives and wider communities. If you’re still not sure what you could do and what it would look like, get in touch with me! It would be my absolute pleasure to answer any questions you may have and help you find something that works for you.