How to be an active, contributing member of your community

Community involvement can be both fun and fulfilling. Here are four principles we've adopted in our stake:

Give Christian service in the community. Jesus taught, "For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." (Matt. 25: 35-36.) There are many hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick and wayward individuals in each community. Serving them fills vital needs, offers unique personal rewards and is pleasing to the Savior.- Get off the mount and into the sermon. The beautiful words of Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew chapters 5-7) are so powerful, one has only to read them to feel uplifted. But don't stop there. They were meant to be put into practice. It's in rolling up your sleeves and getting involved that the real power of His teachings can be personally experienced.

Uncircle the wagons. Try to reach out beyond the narrow circle of your ward and stake. Every locality has its share of wonderful, non-LDS service organizations set up to serve the various needs mentioned in the above scripture. Consider offering your assistance to the homeless shelter in your area, serving in a nearby food kitchen, reading stories at a children's hospital, putting on a program at a local detention facility, etc. Getting involved with good people of other faiths expands our horizons, melts away artificial barriers and fosters goodwill.

Integrate, rather than proliferate. Avoid making community service "one extra thing I have to do." For example, if you have an elders quorum activity planned, make it a service project followed by a barbecue. If you're buying toothpaste, pick up a couple of extra tubes for the local shelter and drop them off when you're in the area. In other words, try making community service a part of something you would do anyway. - Chance Thomas, Salt Lake City, Utah

What we did:

Give hour or two

Your local food bank may need volunteers to process donations. Could you give an hour or two a month - and bring a friend? Each of those small children who come through a shelter would really enjoy having his or her own baby quilt. Could you organize the young women or young men to tie some? Have you ever thought of being a Boy Scout merit badge counselor? Surely one of those hundred topics interests you. Still stuck for ideas? Ask your ward public communications representative. He or she will know. - Douglass F. Taber, Neward, Del.

Active part

I have found myself going to a few city council meetings. It helps the city to really know what's on our minds if we take an active part and don't think, "Well, someone else will bring a matter to the attention of the neighborhood, so why go?"

Going will make an impact - great or small - as sometimes it just takes one voice to get the wheels moving, and that one may have to be you. - Paul A. White, Granite Bay, Calif.

Opportunities numerous

In 100 years it will not matter very much how big your house was, what kind of car you drove or how much fancy furniture you owned. It does matter what contribution you make to the community around you.

Opportunities are numerous, time commitments are variable, and everyone is needed. It is important to prayerfully consider the personal resources available at any given period in one's life. Some are able to volunteer one or two hours per week, others for several hours a day. Consider energy reserves as well. While one individual may be most comfortable working on a project at home, another may enjoy spending time and energy in the community at meetings, giving presentations or canvassing neighborhoods for charitable causes. Consider your personal interests and then choose the organizations with which you affiliate.

Participation in community activities provides an opportunity to meet many people with similar concerns and values. Obtain a list of community volunteer organizations. Attend one of their presentations or board meetings. A volunteer is most satisfied when working in an area of personal interest or expertise. Finally, if you are aware of an unmet need in the community, don't be afraid to begin your own volunteer group or campaign to make that contribution that will really matter for years to come. - Jean E. Lyman, Los Alamos, N.M.

Unique talents

Every person has unique talents. Every community needs volunteers with the talents to help make it a better place to live.

Service projects of every worthwhile cause should have Latter-day Saints working side by side with community volunteers of every persuasion. Barriers of distrust and bewilderment will be eliminated as we labor for common purposes.

Look at the various organizations in your community. Which one would be just right for someone like you? Contact leaders of that cause and tell them you want to help. You will be needed, appreciated and put right to work. - W. James Johnston, Pocatello, Idaho

Love, respect

I have served on a local school board for nearly 17 years. In addition, I have served on budget committees and a legislative advisory committee for education.

The key to being a contributing member is to practice love and respect for others as the Savior did. As I have served my community, I have discovered that my effectiveness is a direct result of the value others place in my actions and communications. This respect by others is brought about by respecting and loving them, even though we may represent different view points.

We must never forget to pray as we approach opportunities to serve in the community. As Church members, the Holy Ghost can assist us in representing the deep values of the gospel as we serve. It can help us know how to effectively represent what may be unpopular views. - Murray L. Paolo, Yamhill, Ore.

Match your talents

My recommendation would be to find a need that matches your talents and invite others to share in the blessings that come from following King Benjamin's advice (see Mos. 2:17) to serve your fellow man. - Mary Whitmore, Myers Flat, Calif.

Every little bit

It doesn't take a lot of time to do some small thing to make your community a better place in which to live. Go on a field trip with your child's school class, start a neighborhood watch group, be a block home. The most important thing is to not "run faster than you have strength." Assess the amount of time you can contribute, then find something that will fit your schedule. Every little bit helps. - Larry Beck, Tigard, Ore.

How to checklist:

1 Make community service part of life; pray for guidance.

2 Match talents with needs; consider personal interests.

3 Be involved, aware; attend community meetings.

4 Don't be afraid to reach out, search out unmet needs.


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March 23 "How to mend a relationship in which you have hurt another."

March 30 "How to help children learn tolerance, understanding of those of other faiths."

April 6 "How to show respect, be polite while on a date as a young person."

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April 27 "How to decorate your home on a limited budget."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2121 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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