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life + work + parenthood + COMMUNITY

  • Writer's pictureJill Devine

Community Giving: How To Get Involved As An Immigrant Family

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Image by Pexels

It’s difficult to overstate the value of community. Whether you were born into one, or you’ve recently joined a new one, finding somewhere to belong is important, and community is at the center of much that is good in America. This is why it’s so important to give back to the community however you can.

Here are some tips for helping out in your community this holiday season (whilst staying connected to the folks back home):

Volunteer With Homeless

The colder months mark an especially difficult time for the homeless population and your help could prove critical for their wellbeing. A good start is with charity contributions - if you have clothes, books or other functional items, your donations might help keep them warm, stimulated or safe. There are also plenty of opportunities to assist at food banks, with food distributions or spending time making one of the USA’s 11,180 shelters more habitable.

Each year, the government invests $3.5 billion in homeless assistance, awarding grants to communities that administer housing and services at the local level. By getting in touch with your local government, you can learn more about the efforts being made to tackle homelessness in your area and work to help out.

Volunteer for the Environment

With so many forces working against it, we have to take special action to ensure the wellbeing of our natural world. During the winter months, many farms or homesteads need an extra pair of hands to help with livestock and poultry management, small dairy operations, or land cultivation. This is usually tough, hands-on work so make sure you turn up with a can-do attitude and ready to get stuck in!

Alternatively, you could look into helping out with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which works on a daily basis to promote education, restore habitats and conduct surveys on local species. Many of their roles involve admin or classroom participation. If you’re unable to find a position with federal agencies but still want to help out in the local wilderness, try the American Conservation Experience (ACE), which specializes in land management and actively welcomes the help of volunteers, training those involved on the subject of conservation.

Stay In Touch with Home

If you’ve recently immigrated to America, you can take steps to keep in touch with friends, family and stay involved in your local community. A good start is by using the many video call platforms that have been popularized during the pandemic - WhatsApp, Skype, or FaceTime, for example. It’s also possible to sync these with calendars or set alerts so that, regardless of timezone, people are reminded of when it’s time to get online.

If you’re looking to send money, there are plenty of international transfer options. For example, if you want to send money home to family in Vietnam, platforms like Remitly offer safe, secure, and low-cost services that make it easy to transfer funds to family or friends in Da Nang or Ha Noi, or anywhere else. If you’d rather send presents home to family, say to the Philippines, there are special services available that help you create the ultimate balikbayan box for your Filipino friends or family.

If you’re new to the neighborhood, the important thing is that you’re pitching in and showing a willingness to contribute. Just remember, touching base back home is important too and, this holiday season, we should all make the effort to show our appreciation for loved ones near and far.

Sheila Johnson makes self-care a priority now that she’s seen the consequences when she doesn’t. She found a routine that balances work life with taking care of her mental, emotional, and physical health.

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