Community involvement, support matters now more than ever
2021 — A new year. As the calendar rolled over to January, did you think about New Year’s resolutions? Did you set goals for the next 12 months? Maybe you want to lose some weight or get more active. Perhaps you’re committed to reading or writing more. You have possibly set a goal to learn a new language or how to knit. But what if your New Year’s resolution or 2021 goal was to find ways to engage in your community?
I hear frequently from local non-profit organizations that finding volunteers is becoming increasingly difficult. Throw in a global pandemic, social-distancing guidelines, and face mask requirements, and the pool of volunteers has gotten even smaller. Find a local organization, committee, or cause that is near and dear to your heart to give of your time, talent and treasure this year. You can volunteer to stuff fundraising letters, teach Sunday school, be a mentor, take a position on a board or committee, pick up trash, the list is endless. In Marshalltown alone, there are dozens of non-profit organizations that could use your help.
This one might be more difficult, depending on COVID-19, but local events, such as live music concerts and festivals like Oktemberfest, take a lot of time and effort to plan. Hours of volunteer time go into the multi-day Oktemberfest and Central Iowa Fair events each year. If possible, attend these events, in addition to other events like art exhibitions, sporting events and fundraisers. Adhere to guidelines related to COVID-19, but get more engaged in the community by attending a local event. You can find a list of events on the Chamber’s website: business.marshalltown.org/community-events.
Think Local First
The Chamber has been spreading the “Think Local First” message for a number of years. “Think Local First” means asking yourself if you can get the good or service you need in the local area. If the answer is “yes,” please support our local businesses and organizations by keeping business here. There are many ways you can do this, even amidst COVID-19 concerns – get take out or delivery, utilize special shopping hours (some local retailers will even accommodate your personal shopping request), or call orders in for curbside delivery. You can also “Think Local First” without spending any money by following our favorite local businesses on social media, like and share posts and tell your friends about positive experiences you’ve had with restaurants, retailers and service providers.
I challenge you to find new ways to engage in your community in 2021. It takes all of us working together to make a difference.
Lynn Olberding is the executive director
of the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce.