Here are ten things you can do now to start making a difference in your community. Volunteering your time, energy, and skills to contribute to the betterment of humankind has always been and will always be a noble enterprise.
Teach kids to swim.
I live in a country which currently records about 6,000 drowning deaths per year, the vast majority of which are children under the age of 16. Other countries, espcecially in Asia and Africa, have similar statistics. Even in rich countries in North America and Europe, many children do not learn how to swim.
Becoming a certified swimming instructor is a relatively easy task. Once you know how to teach swimming, finding students will be easy. Walk around your neighborhood and you’ll find at least half of the kids don’t know how to swim. Learning how to swim will enrich the child’s life enormously and prevent him from meeting an unnecessary early death.
You don’t need to be a certified English instructor in order to teach English. If it is your native tongue, look around your neighborhood to see if there are people who speak English as a second or third language. They and their kids are likely in need of some instruction. Volunteer your time and assist them with whatever they need the most help with, whether it be simple conversation, writing, public speaking, or reading.
Illiteracy is still a huge problem in many parts of the world. Parents who are illiterate will not pass on the habit of reading to their children. If you can teach a child to read and also share a love of books, you will be giving a gift that will last a lifetime. Help a kid to wean off the smartphone and learn the joy of book reading.
Teach nutrition and healthy cooking
Obesity is spreading like wildfire around the world. We need to start fighting back against the fast food conglomerates, the evil GMO seed companies, and junk food manufacturers. Most people receive no nutrition education whatsoever during their formative years. They don’t know how to read a food label, how to calculate calories, or how to cook a simple, inexpensive, delicious, and healthy meal. People will rarely go to a bookstore to buy a book on nutrition and take it home to read and study. They need a mentor and a counselor to guide them to a healthier lifestyle.
Teach gardening, fishing, and hunting
‘Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever.’ If you possess skills related to procuring your own food outside of the global capitalist food chain, then you can help others to do the same and gain a freedom they didn’t know existed. As more and more people move to the cities, these skills are rapidly being lost. Keep them alive by teaching the next generation.
Everybody would love to play an instrument, but most need a nudge to get started. It’s not the money factor; second-hand instruments can be had for a dime. The time can be easily be found to practice. Even so-called ‘super busy’ people waste time during the week doing silly things like updating Facebook. What most truly lack is a good teacher who is affordable and available. You can be that person.
Teach martial arts
You don’t need to be an expert or a black belt to teach, especially to kids. This is not about opening a martial arts academy. If you possess some competency at a martial art, and you are willing to teach for free, then you can have a class in your back yard or basement. Share what you know. Some knowledge of a martial art has enormous benefits. Your students will learn self-defense, get in shape, and gain self-confidence.
Every town has a Red Cross chapter or a local clinic which offers CPR classes. Go one step further and become a certified trainer so that you can pass the skill onto others. When tragedies happen, the vast majority of people freeze like statues. They are scared and have no idea what to do. You can be the hero who jumps into action immediately.
Be a mentor
Millions of young boys around the world lack fathers and father figures. They long for the company of an older man who cares about their development and growth, even if they don’t consciously know it. Spending a few hours on a weekend afternoon with a fatherless boy and exposing him to some culture will often work miracles.
Teach money management
It’s a sad fact of modern life that our world revolves around money, yet most people don’t have a clue about how to manage their own finances. They have difficulty balancing their accounts and planning for the future. They don’t understand how, when, and where they should use a credit card. On a higher level, they don’t really even understand what ‘money’ is. Bonus points if you can explain the banking system.
Bonus: Pick up trash and litter
It has always perplexed me how people will ignore the trash and litter that blights their neighborhood. I think it has something to do with people’s notions of private property, space, and responsibility. Folks mistakenly believe that their ‘home’ extends no further than their front door. Therefore, that trash across the street is ‘not their problem.’ It is someone else’s problem, usually the city or municipal government. They will walk by that trash day after day after day, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the problem and to act on it. By taking action and collecting trash and offering your neighbors an example, you just may start a chain reaction. Be extra bags and gloves to give to curious onlookers.