Daily Prompt: Shoulda Woulda Coulda

In response to the Daily Post writing prompt on February 13, 2013.

Prompt:  Tell us something you know you should do … but don’t.

There are a lot of things that I know I should do that I don’t, and if you were to consult others in my life I’m pretty sure that the list would grow even larger.  Many of these items would be relatively small things, like do the dishes more frequently, help more around the house, etc… And yes, I should absolutely do these types of things more regularly. But tonight, with the help of Geoffrey Canada and some folks that I work with at the United Way, I realized that there is much more that I can and should do to improve my local community.

For those that don’t know (I didn’t the first time I heard his name), Geoffrey Canada is the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone,  an organization that is dedicated to creating a community that supports and develops its residents and children.  He is featured in the documentary, Waiting for Superman, and has some straightforward, common sense ideas about how to improve a child’s opportunity for success and creating communities that thrive.

When asked how he is able to convince wealthy people to give his organization money, he highlighted two key points:

1.  He offers results that can be measured, and he holds his organization accountable for delivering these results.
2.  The people who he’s interacting with care deeply about their city and community.

I am believer in measurement and accountability, and understand why this is important.  People that are offering their money want to know that the money has benefited the community and that their contribution wasn’t wasted.

But the point that really hit home for me was the love of community.  I’ve lived in the same city for all but the first two years of my life.  I care about this city and community, and yet, I don’t do much to give back.  I was involved in animal rescue for a few years, I donate to the local United Way, and do a little volunteer work, but there is much more that I can be doing.

There are tens if not hundreds of groups that support great causes in our city, including food banks, shelters, mentor programs, and advocacy groups for literacy, healthy lifestyles and animal protection.  There are so many ways to contribute within the community that it’s difficult to pick one.  But that’s what needs to happen if we want our communities to thrive.  We need to come together to build vibrant, safe, and engaging communities.

So that’s one key thing that I should be doing that I don’t.  At least I wasn’t until today.  Today, I’m going to start doing more for my community.  I’ll keep you posted.

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