When it comes to UCT, “Where Community and Compassion Unite” isn’t just a tagline, it’s a way of life. For more than 125 years UCT members have been volunteering to enhance their communities across North America through community service, charitable fundraising, and helping those in need. Service projects vary according to community need and can be as simple – or as involved – as councils and members choose.
I caught up recently with Keith Ward, one of UCT’s community outreach managers, to see what tips he had to help UCT local councils get started on impacting their communities. As usual, he had some super suggestions that I feel compelled to share, so here goes.
Start out small. If your council is new or in the early stages of revitalizing community service efforts, keep your projects simple until you gain some traction. Clean up a local park. Work at an area blood drive. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Many local councils like Capitol Council 95 in Springfield, Illinois, have members who volunteer once a month visiting patients at a local hospice, a meaningful experience for everyone involved.
Find out the “cause of the month” and support efforts to promote it. Get involved with local projects for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or American or Canadian Heart Month. Better yet, follow the example of Manchester, New Hampshire Council 195 and plan a different charitable project each month based on your community’s needs. Collect needed items for local vets transitioning out of homelessness or find a unique way to help Habitat for Humanity. Every community is different, so get to know yours.
Focus your efforts on a particular charity or cause and plan at least one fundraising event to provide extra financial support. Host a wine tasting party. Partner with a local restaurant and work out a percentage of a day’s meal sales to go toward the charity. Hold a community cooking competition. Calgary North Council 1015 in Calgary, Alberta, sponsors an annual golf tournament to raise funds for ARBI (Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured) while M.J. Terapak Council 144 in Columbus, Ohio, holds a garage sale each year to support its primary cause, Flying Horse Farms, a camp for kids with serious illnesses.
Sponsor a youth sports team or plan a community event for local children. Sponsoring youth sports teams like baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, hockey, etc., is a great way to support the kids in your community – and to create some awareness of your council and UCT by making sure the UCT logo and your council name is included on uniforms and banners. Even better, sponsor an annual event to benefit your community’s kids. Cape Breton Council 883 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, holds an elementary school skate racing jamboree that draws 500+ students from 30 local schools during spring break each year. The kids and their parents love the event – and the media and community attention the council receives is priceless.
UCT = community involvement. It’s up to you and your local councils to decide what you want to do. How involved do you want to be? What causes and charities matter most to you? How much difference do you want to make? It‘s entirely up to you, but Keith is always available at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help.