The start of Texas Legislative 83rd Session this week and a new federal administration leaves me thinking about the impact decisions made at these levels will have on local efforts to ensure our communities are offer healthy and safe lives filled with opportunity for our citizens. How will people at the local level continue to feel empowered to create change in their communities regardless of the results of the legislation determined by these bodies? While some legislation will be moves in the right direction (hopefully) there will also be results that cause frustration.
An interesting moment of reflection came to me when I read Jonathan Tilove’s First Reading in the Austin-American Statesman this morning. It included an attempt to explore the state of the Tea Party post election season. Julie McCarty, president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party, in response stated: “The tea party at a national level is not manageable. … No, I’m not happy about how things have gone nationally. …. But when I keep my focus local, things work. That’s what I would encourage all those who are frustrated with the political scene to do”.
Focus on the impact you can have locally.
While McCarty wasn’t talking about impacting the issues important to us via what non-profit organizations to support, it still applies. I have long been a proponent of Give Where You Live. I believe that when we experience the impact we can have, it fuels us to seek other ways to help better our communities – and to give of ourselves.
The services local non-profit organizations offer directly impact the health of our community. Therefore, it is important for us to contribute by giving locally first. And to trust that our gift is multiplied and has a greater reach than just what we are able to see.
Define “Local” and “Giving” for yourself.
For most the definition of “local” is the direct community we live in and the surrounding region. One definition could be the “Austin – Travis County – Central Texas” area. But for others the definition of “local” is defined within one specific issue or cause. If your core cause is to fight blood cancer, then supporting your local community may be acting as an advocate for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Define “local” for yourself.
In Austin there has been a lot of time and energy spent around the difference between how people give – financial gifts or the gift of volunteering. There has been a question as to whether or not Austin is a “giving city” because it ranked lower in monetary gifts than other cities. And too often I hear the intent to give when a specific income level is acquired. But I believe you should also give time if you have it.
The benefit of giving time and then money to an organization is you have the opportunity to experience some of the work that an organization is doing. You can see what type of impact your gift will make. In the end, if you can’t make a financial gift to every organization you volunteer with, don’t underestimate the gift of your time or expertise.
I ask that we all commit to giving in some way at a local level this year – to impact the community and issues we care about. In the end, what happens at the state and federal level may not be something we always agree on, but we can always have a positive impact on our local communities. How will you do that? Email me or leave a comment if you want a suggestion – I am happy to help. Besides, it feels good to give!