By Terry Ippolito
How many times do I see a problem, any problem, and pretend it doesn’t have anything to do with me? Sometimes I find myself saying, “Sure that big old ___________ out there is a huge eyesore, but I can’t do anything about it?” Even though I work for EPA, I can convince myself that a stream filled with trash or littered streets is something I can’t change.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I may not have created the problem, but I can help create a solution to the problem. Many times in life we clean up after other people’s messes. When my efforts are joined with others’ the change can be dramatic. A great way to see and affect real change is to participate or volunteer for a community service project. Getting involved isn’t that difficult to do either. There are always organizations and people in need. Think of your community, its needs and where you already know people go for help. Some ideas include nature centers, local park districts or agencies, schools, hospitals, community centers and senior centers. You could also start out with a simple search on the internet; search your town’s name and community service. You might be surprised how many people, places and things out there really need your help.
Sometimes community service attracts people who are interested in specific topics. As an example, today lots of people are concerned about what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico and wish they could do something about it. If this is the case and you want to get involved, try United We Serve’s special site, Gulf Spill: How You Can Help. The Gulf oil spill is also the focus of Bloggers Unite for the Planet and the National Wildlife Federation’s site on helping wildlife impacted by the oil spill.
Where do you volunteer? How did you find that volunteer connection? We’d love to know.
About the author: Terry Ippolito has worked at EPA for 21 years. She currently serves as the Environmental Education Coordinator and is a former science educator. When she was 10 years old, she organized the kids on her block to do a clean up thus setting the stage for an interest in community and the environment. She lives in New York City and is still picking up litter on her way to the train in the morning.