There are many benefits to volunteering as a family; not only can you spend quality time together, you as a parent are also demonstrating the power of compassion to your children and leading by example. In addition to strengthening family bonds, volunteerism also strengthens communities. The act of volunteering makes us more aware of the issues faced by our community, allowing us to develop a greater sense of belonging.
The following is a list of ways you and your family can support a more equitable Grand Rapids through volunteerism and good citizenship:
- Volunteer as a family (remotely or in person). As mentioned above, volunteering is a great way for GRPS families to gain pride as a community and demonstrate good citizenship. Volunteers can either give their time remotely or in person (while following safety guidelines). Here are a few opportunities focused to serve our communities most impacted by COVID-19:
- Visit the Heart of West Michigan United Way’s website to view their list of volunteer opportunities in the Grand Rapids area.
- Other great organizations for families to volunteer with include Feeding America West Michigan, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Women at Risk, ACT (Artists Creating Together), and Kids Food Basket; check out the complete list on the GR Kids website.
- Even though we’re currently facilitating learning via distance learning platforms, there are still ways for GRPS parents and caregivers to give their time to their child’s school! Check out this list of awesome ideas recommended by the Family and Community Engagement (FACE) office.
- Buy locally from POC-owned businesses and restaurants. Many businesses and restaurants owned by people of color (POC) have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- To find a list of Black-owned restaurants in Grand Rapids you can support, follow this link (many of these restaurants have pick-up or delivery options; contact the business directly for more information). The Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) website is also a great online resource.
- The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce website contains a list of their member restaurants and other businesses that are worth checking out.
- The West Michigan Asian American Association’s Business Directory lists businesses and restaurants around the region that you and your family can support.
- Support local Native American-owned businesses! Follow this link to shop Native American-owned artisan products, view art by Jason Quigo, local Native American artist, or have your dinner party/wedding catered by Jiibaakwaan Foods!
- Donate. Heart of West Michigan United Way maintains an updated list on their website of their donation needs. If your family is interested in sewing face masks, giving essential supplies, or offering other types of donations, follow this link to Heart of West Michigan United Way’s website to see what is currently needed.
- Wear a mask in public spaces. Viruses don’t discriminate. However, communities of color are among the hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19. Ensuring that you and your children are wearing masks in public, washing your hands frequently, and practicing safe social distancing protocols shows that you are doing your part to stop the spread of the virus.