April 23, 2020| Lester Yat
Wouldn’t it be great if your community offered more family-oriented activities? Provided a community garden so residents could grow some fresh vegetables? Or organized a fund-raiser to support a local charity?
Across the nation, residents of condominium and apartment communities have those options—and many more — available, making their neighborhoods friendly and enjoyable places to live. They’re organizing outings, summer barbecues, and Saturday afternoon softball games. They’re sprucing up bike and walking paths, welcoming new families, and sponsoring drives to help local food banks.
So what’s their secret to creating active, engaged, award-winning communities?
Volunteers, of course!
Take a look around. Property managers are busy keeping the building or community running smoothly. The condo board meets regularly to set policies, oversee the budget, and generally keep an eye on things. In an apartment building, the residents’ association is actively serving as a voice for the community and lobbying for needed changes. But a handful of people, no matter how dedicated, can only do so much. That’s where a team of volunteers can transform an average community into an award-winning one.
Good for You, Good for the Community
Making a difference in one’s neighborhood — whether in an urban setting or a sprawling condo complex — brings with it a wealth of personal benefits. It keeps people active, improves social life, lessens feelings of isolation, and provides a sense of purpose.
At the same time, volunteers can be the lifeblood of a community, turning a building or group of buildings into a neighborhood that residents are proud to call home. Volunteers can improve a building’s curb appeal, create bridges between generations and ethnic groups, or share interesting hobbies. They can organize pool parties, be ready to lend a hand when a neighbor runs into a health problem, or bring in speakers on current topics of interest.
Sounds great — but how does a manager or association leader convince residents to step up to the plate, and invest the time and energy needed to make these things happen?
One Step at a Time
Here’s a tip: Small steps will get you to first base more effectively than huge strides. As one experienced manager suggested, don’t ask residents to join a committee that meets for two hours every month; ask, instead, if they can help for a day. Who knows? That one day may turn into a continuing commitment, if it doesn’t feel like a burden.
So you tried a weekly bingo game and it fell flat? A tennis tournament attracted no competitors? A poetry reading played to a room of empty seats?
Knowing your community, and understanding residents’ interests, is the key to success. There’s an endless variety of ways to reach out to residents today, and a survey to gauge interest will not only underscore what folks want — it could also elicit offers to spear-head that pickleball tournament, trip to a community theater or community garden plan.
Summer is a great time to make the pitch for volunteers. Folks are outdoors, meeting each other in the parking lot, around the pool, and at the playground. Toss out the idea of volunteerism to the next person you see. You just may hit a home run for your community.