By Kelly Scarola, MS
Author of our blog post Raising Kindness
So- you think you might be interested in starting your own service group, and I think that is amazing! The world needs more people like you!
Keep in mind- endeavors like this can often times seem daunting and overwhelming, which can lead to a failure to launch. That being said- it is important to have a place to start. So I will share with you the story of how Teach Your Children Well began.
There was a time in my life when I was feeling very lost. I was floundering without purpose, and didn’t have any self- esteem. Someone once told me that in order to have self-esteem, you must do esteem-able acts. As I started to live my life with integrity, kindness and compassion, I realized that doing good feels good. And feeling good can be addicting. This is when I decided that when any opportunity to be of service was presented, I would take it.
When my husband and I started our family our lives became hectic. I wanted to be able to help others, but truthfully did not have the time. I needed to be with my children, but also craved the ability to do things that made me feel like I was a force for good in this crazy world.
As mothers that juggle an insane amount of responsibilities, it is integral that we find a way to achieve balance in our lives. It was in finding my balance that Teach Your Children Well was born. Once I recognized that I could combine family time with community service, I decided that there must be others out there that would be interested in this as well. This initiative held promise to be beneficial for everyone: children, parents, and the community.
That being said, I needed a platform from which to launch this project.
We all know that Facebook is an extremely accessible means of communicating with the immediate world. It helps us network, conduct informal research, and promote ideas that reach limitless amounts of people. In fact, it has been said that Facebook has now achieved a record of over 1 billion active users in one single day! Needless to say, I decided that it would be an extremely effective way to determine if my idea would be successful. It is through the Facebook group that I was able to understand that others were indeed interested in this idea, determine the types of projects others would like to participate in, and advertise the projects/events in a way that would encourage partipcation. Not to mention- it is also super easy to create a group on Facebook.
I have acquired some strategies along the way. Although some of these lessons were learned the hard way, they have all been extremely beneficial as Teach Your Children Well moves forward.
When planning for your service group, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Communication is key. Have a platform with which to reach prospective group members and an easy form of connecting with them. Remember- Facebook isn’t the only means of accomplishing this goal!
- Have a clear idea of the mission for the group, and a very concise and accessible way of sharing that mission. Others need to fully understand the aim to determine if they would like to join the cause.
Start local and expand outwards. This helps to maintain focus and keep things manageable in the beginning.
- Be creative! Others are more apt to become interested if the projects are fun, fresh, and inspired.
- Determine the beneficiaries of your altruism. Each community has their own needs and issues. Some causes have fewer champions. You want to help where it is needed the most.
- Research any charities or organizations with which you plan on partnering. Unfortunately not all charities are created equal. Two good resources are: Charity Watch and Charity Navigator.
- Have contingency plans! When you are planning an event you are at the mercy of those who state they will participate. However, things come up and participants may not show at the last minute. If you have a cause or group of people that are counting on you- it is vital to have an alternate means of achieving your goal without relying on participants.
- Make it fun! You want others to experience the joy of service. You want return contributors. Incorporate some excitement or incentive and others will want to participate repeatedly.
I hope in sharing my story I have encouraged you to start your own service group. The world needs a lot of healing. The only way we can do our part is through demonstrating compassion through action and teaching our children well. If starting a service group feels a bit overwhelming, remember that you can always start at home. Read about How to Raise Kindness at home.
Kelly once had a dream of becoming an Academy Award-winning actress; naturally she earned herself an MS in Elementary and Special Education. What sparks her fancy now is becoming a better human, raising two good small humans, and having as much fun as possible while doing it. You can find her with her nose in a book, binge-watching documentaries, or doing laundry on Long Island.