A commitment to family and community is in the hearts of most African Americans, who are deeply involved in their communities and find it personally empowering.
Consider these findings from a newly released MassMutual research study:
- A majority (80 percent) of African Americans agree that community involvement is important to their well-being and almost half (44 percent) consider themselves community leaders.
- More than half (62 percent) of African Americans report that they have supported someone in their community in a time of financial stress and 32 percent have been supported by others in their community during a time of need.
According to a 2016 Nielsen consumer report, annual incomes for black households are on the rise. Combined with the commitment to community, that bodes well for the future of African American communities overall.
“Giving back is a core tenet in the lives of many African-Americans,” said Mary Grate-Pyos, a financial professional for Capitol Financial Partners, a general agency of MassMutual. “Many of us credit our communities and family for their role in our success, both personally and in business. Without the love, support and wisdom of people who care about you, there would be many achievements that would have never been realized. African-Americans believe in the value and concept of ‘it takes a village’ to grow and thrive and it requires help from others to give you the 'hand up.’”
In short, people are finding ways to get involved in their local communities in order to share the love and prosperity. They get back from what they give.
Ways to get involved
So how can someone in the African American community, or any community for that matter, get involved?
Here are three tips for becoming more involved in your community from Dennis Duquette, MassMutual’s head of community responsibility and president of the MassMutual Foundation:
Reflect. Ask yourself: What are you passionate about? Where do you see a need in your local community? What causes really resonate with you? Where would you like to make a difference?
Research. Once you’ve identified your cause or area of focus, do some research to identify organizations that are doing good work in that area. Check out their websites. Visit Charity Navigator to find hundreds of black and community outreach organizations and see how those organizations are rated for the quality of services they deliver. And talk to people at the organization or those who are familiar with it to learn more.
Apply yourself. What value can you offer and what do you want to do? Consider all the possibilities to make an impact on the community while meeting your own aspirations. Perhaps general volunteer activities appeal to you, like cleaning up a public space, getting involved with your fraternity or sorority volunteer program, mentoring a student, or an outreach program at your church. Or you may want to apply particular skills to address a more strategic project where your expertise is needed, like technology assistance, financial literacy (education), legal services, or marketing. You also might consider a more formal role through participation on a board of directors for a non-profit or community organization. You can find out more about all of these possibilities by visiting the leadership of the organizations you are interested in. Important tip: Make sure you have a clear and mutual understanding with your organization of choice about expectations for your involvement.
Whatever you choose, remember that non-profit organizations welcome a wide array of contributions from volunteers. By doing a little homework up front, you can ensure that you will have a fulfilling volunteer experience and that your community will get the best of what you have to offer.
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