How Community Service Serves You – Not Just the Community

How Community Service Serves You – Not Just the Community

If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day. –Alex Noble

This is a guest post for Powered by Intuition from Aileen Pablo.

Community Service Serves You and The CommunitySomething changed in Los Angeles, where I live.

The economic downturn that hit the world, hit Los Angeles especially hard.

The city which is spread out over a large area, like many villages that grew and now merged with each other, relies heavily on the film and TV Industry. It has seen unemployment rise way above the national average.

Since the economic downturn people are not making money, nor spending money and the city coffers are depleted. No one expected such a long recession, let alone the government.

Maybe that was the reason for the insistent presence of the traffic cops in my area. Or maybe not.

All I know is that within three months I’ve gotten three traffic tickets. Over the past 20 years I got two tickets, an average of one in ten years. Now I had three, in three months. It’s not like I grew old and can’t drive anymore…

The fines were very stiff: $500+ per ticket. Being one of those who suffered from under-employment, there was no way I could survive if I had to pay those fines. I decided to go to court.

That’s how I got to do community service.

When the lady in the court’s Community Service office went down the line of possible places, I heard something that had to do with gardening. I asked her to go back and read it again, slower. Yes, there’s a place that looks for volunteers that are willing to garden and I jumped on it.

What came next was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life.

How did this serve me, not just the community?

Let me count the ways:

1. I’m the helping kind, so the idea that I can help in beautifying where I live appealed to me. Doing something that will be there for all to enjoy.

2. I ‘was ordered’ to be outdoors for 3-4 hours at a time, twice a week. I’m usually at home by the computer. I felt better, breathed better and got a tan.

3. I was doing physical activity! No need to exercise, make time to exercise, feel guilty for not exercising etc.

4. I met wonderful people that care about where they live and want to make it pretty to look at. At a time when all the budgets are cut, we need those people more than ever.

5. I met people from the community who stopped to ask what I was doing. They were amazed to hear that it was my community service. They were very thankful for my services.

6. I became a docent of the walkway I was cultivating. Proud to explain what was planted, where, when and why.

7. When the community servicehours were done, I went back to court and asked for the second ticket to be converted as well. I’ve become proud of my walkway, bringing friends to see this hidden gem.

8. I stayed in touch with some of the people I’ve met and I still volunteer when asked. There’s a small piece of me in the community.

As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Oh, and yes, I also didn’t have to pay the fines

Have you ever served your community? How did it serve you as well?

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Aileen Pablo is part of the team behind Open Learning Australia, one of Australia’s leading providers of Distance education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career. She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines.If you have a blog and would like free content. You can find her on Google+.