People often tend to neglect others around us, and can be very ignorant of certain communities or people who are not very privileged, or the communities who may be in need of help. Community service is the work performed by an individual or a group of individuals to help out certain people (often in need) of the community.
This work is done for the betterment of the community, and can indeed be very rewarding. These communities can include the elderly, children, vulnerable groups and minorities, people with disabilities, and even animals.
It can be rewarding as it opens you up to unique experiences, makes you much more compassionate, helps you discover your passion, and turns you into a better human being overall.
Community service initiatives are thus lauded by admission committees, as they show that you are interested in engaging with communities outside of your classroom as well. It demonstrates that you are willing to go the extra mile to help people around you, which forms the ethos of the society we live in.
Universities look for people who are driven and compassionate, aware of their surroundings, and most importantly, are enterprising enough to better the society they live in. Hence, community service becomes an important factor that could set you apart from hundreds of others.
So how do you engage in community service?
That sounds tough, doesn’t it? Many high schoolers often tie-up with groups or organizations that already work towards specific causes, and that can be a good place to start. Some of these include organizations working with people with disabilities; helping children access education; working with the elderly, and so on. However, you can also decide to start your own initiative to help out the community. But how do you go about it? You can follow our simple guide.
Step 1: Who do you want to work with?
As the first step, you’ll need to ascertain what is the cause you believe in and want to work towards. Do you want to educate the underprivileged children, or maybe you want to help our the stray dogs in your neighbourhood- the basic idea will be decided during this step. During this step, choose a cause, determine the demographics of the population (age, sex, location, social status) and also determine the geographical area you want to work in.
Step 2: What is the problem?
Once you’ve determined the field you want to work in, let’s look at the problems faced by your target population. Make a comprehensive list of the problems faced by the community you want to work with, and find out the nature and reason of the problem.
For example, let’s say you want to work with underprivileged students towards their education. For this, determine the social and economic background of these students. Find out why they don’t have access to education, whether or not they’ve had access to education in the past, do girls get the same education as boys, and so on. Then, determine the problem YOU want to solve. Be extremely specific here- like working with girls and educating them about reproductive and sexual health. The problem you target should be as specific as possible, and should also be related to your interest. It should also hold relevance to the target population and also to your profile.
Step 3: How do you propose to solve the problem?
Here, analyse the specific problem that you determined in the previous step. Try and come up with unique solutions to your problem, which are purposive, bespoke for the group you’re working with, and are also practical and timely. Do you need to hold workshops? What kind of workshops would these be, and who will be the instructor? Are you building partnerships with other organisations or the government? These can be some of the ideas that you can come up with.
Step 4: What are your requirements?
Now that you have come up with a solution in your head, its time to plan things and plan them right. Obviously, you’d need certain resources towards implementing your solutions. Study the requirements and make an extensive check-list of the resources required. These not only include monetary and financial resources, but also human resources, logistical support, and physical resources.
Step 5: Let’s go!
It’s time to get going! To proceed, prepare a detailed proposal of your plan of action that you’ll use to pitch to the authorities. Make sure you have the resources and capacities in place when you pitch your proposal, and can demonstrate your calibre. Once approved by the concerned authorities, your plan is good to go and the community initiative is ready for its flight!
Community service is a great way to understand the community you live in. We’re sure once you begin your initiative or tie up with an organisation, you’ll get sensitised towards a plethora of social problems, which will broaden your worldview. Best of luck!