Park Forest, Illinois, with its rich history and gorgeous, natural surroundings offers a plethora of volunteer opportunities to those who call the area home. Whether you can commit an hour or a dollar, every act of involvement adds to the community spirit. Volunteering has been a cornerstone in the development of the area, offering both a way to strengthen community bonds and help lift those who need lifting the most.
Take a moment to explore just a few ways that you too can become involved in the Park Forest community. Who knows, you may find out that your simple act of kindness does more for your neighbors that you ever thought possible.
Serve on a Board or Commission
Park Forest offers its residents the opportunity to become involved on a political level through its boards and commissions. Spanning a wide range of concerns, Park Forest has a commission for everything from youth programming to senior citizen outreach to environmental issues. If interested, first determine which topic resonates with you the most. Then, complete an application on the Village's website, indicating which board you'd like to be considered for. Once submitted, the major will review your application to determine if you would be a right fit for that board. If approved, and if a seat is open, you would then partake in the regular meetings, brainstorming and planning for that department. Becoming a board member is a great way to have a powerful impact in your community by volunteering your time.
Donate to Local Charities
Park Forest has many charities and causes that its residents can donate financially or physically to. From church charities to national charities to local, seasonal charities, the area is home to many organizations that seek to empower and enhance the lives of those who call Park Forest home. Without showing a preference to any one charity by listing them here, a simple Google search will reveal many that you can become involved with.
Join Park Forest Facebook Groups
Park Forest has many Facebook groups that span a wide range of topics. From the Park Forest Police Department Page to the Residents and Stakeholders Group to the Buy Nothing Park Forest group, the options are many. The wonderful thing about staying connected with your community through dedicated Facebook groups is that you can stay informed of additional opportunities to get involved through others' posts. Many residents link to current toy drives or food drives. Some link to organizations who are requesting immediate help due to recent tragedies both in Park Forest and surrounding areas. For example, a recent fire in Richton Park prompted many to donate clothing, toys, toiletry items and money to the 30+ families who were displaced by the fire. The results were so massive that the organizers had to request that donations stop flooding in as they didn't have enough volunteers to sort it all! What an amazing community we live in!
Pick up Litter
Nothing can bring down the appearance or energy of a community faster than trash on the streets and lawns. A simple walk through your own neighborhood or down a busy street will reveal the massive opportunity to become a steward of the land. If you can manage the time, commit to picking up litter just one day a week. Grab some gloves, maybe a pick-up stick and a garbage bag or two. Walk down the street and pick up any litter that you find. Be careful not to touch any sharp objects. After a month or so of doing this regularly, you will see a major change in the appearance of the area you wish to keep clean. Seeing you pick up trash can also motivate others to do the same in their area. Maybe they'll want to join you in your efforts, in which case, a team of volunteers can make an even greater impact than a single clean up crew. Positivity spreads like wildfire. It would be amazing if you could be the catalyst.
Plant a Community Garden
Park Forest has designated many sites to allow its residents to plant community gardens. Once planted and harvested, many will donate the fruits of their labor. Some post the available vegetation on the Park Forest Facebook groups. Some place them in designated give-a-way boxes for community members to drive by and choose at will. This is a great way to help beautify the area and provide food for those who need it the most. Another important aspect of community gardening is learning and teaching the youth. As gardening has become a lost art with many families who rely solely on grocery stores, this opportunity to teach and learn becomes ever more valuable.
While this is just a small list of ways you can become involved in your community, it certainly offers ideas to get started. If we want our community to remain strong and connected, it's important that we be the glue that binds it together. Every single act of kindness multiplies exponentially into one huge act of kindness. Like Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
If you are not a current Park Forest resident, and would like to become a part of our growing community, call Cedarwood Housing Cooperative today to explore its unique alternative to home ownership. Experience the benefits of owning a home without the stress or financial burden of traditional maintenance. Call today to view available units and to learn more.