November 20, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Give Back in Bastrop County

by Cathleen Martin

'Tis the season for giving and giving back! One of the best things about living here in Bastrop County is the sense of community you find just about everywhere you goshopping at the grocery store, mailing packages at the post office, or cheering at your kid's soccer game—and knowing that around every corner, there are people who truly care about each other and will pull together in times of crisis (something we've unfortunately learned first-hand over the last couple of years).

Here are a few ideas on how to give back to further support and strengthen our wonderful community… chances are, you'll see someone you know working right there alongside you!

  1. Lend a helping hand to someone still affected by the wildfires. There are lots of folks still reeling from losses due to the Labor Day fires of 2011. Many people were either uninsured or underinsured and are still struggling to rebuild their homes. The Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team has a lot of opportunities for you to help restore people to their pre-disaster status.

  2. Preserve our community’s history and heritage. Sharing family photographs, documents, and stories with our local historical organizations can be a great way to help others understand and appreciate Bastrop County’s unique history. Contact the Bastrop County Historical Society, the Elgin Historical Association, or the Smithville Heritage Society for more information.

  3. Assist a child in need. There are tons of ways you can reach out to kids in our community to lend them a helping hand. The Children's Advocacy Center coordinates services for child victims of abuse; CASA of Bastrop provides children with a dedicated adult advocate as they travel through the child protective system; and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bastrop County work tirelessly to empower children to reach their full potential. Please visit their respective websites for information on how to help.

  4. Serve our furry and feathered friends. Animal lovers can help improve the lives of our county’s companion animals by volunteering to help out at a shelter or to foster pets in your own home. Contact Bastrop Animal Rescue or Bastrop County Animal Services to find out more.

  5. Provide aid to families in crisis. The Family Crisis Center exists to "offer victims of domestic and sexual violence safety, shelter, and advocacy." Volunteer opportunities include manning the center’s hotline, becoming a client advocate, assisting with clerical or maintenance tasks, or working at the Bits and Pieces thrift store. You can also help out folks with crisis pregnancies by contacting the Bastrop Pregnancy Resource Center and volunteering to meet with clients or assist in their maternity/baby boutique.

  6. Hang out with some cool seniors. Many seniors who have limited mobility or resources often really appreciate a visit from a friend. Try contacting one of our local retirement homes or the Bastrop Senior Center to find a place to get started. You can also help seniors by volunteering with the Elgin chapter of Drive a Senior; this organization provides free-of-charge car rides, shopping assistance, minor home repairs, and more so that seniors are able to live independently in their own homes.

  7. Contribute to our vibrant arts scene. If you create or appreciate fine art you may want to consider joining one of our local arts organizations, who strive to support local artists and to increase interest in the arts in our community. The Lost Pines Artisans Alliance and Bastrop Fine Arts Guild are good places to start. Also, Bastrop Art in Public Places is always looking for new ideas on how to enhance the beauty of our community through art.

  8. Enhance our environment. Help offset the enormous impact the wildfires had on our local environment through the Arbor Day Foundation’s Lost Pines Forest Recovery Campaign (organized in conjunction with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Forest Service). You can sign up via their website to assist in planting new Loblolly Pine seedlings at Bastrop State Park. Also, Keep Bastrop County Beautiful has some great volunteer opportunities for clean-ups, recycling programs, green living education, and more.

  9. Feed some hungry folks. There are far too many people in our community who do not always know where their next meal is coming from. Help those dealing with food insecurity through several great organizations in Bastrop County, including the Bastrop County Emergency Food Pantry, the Smithville Food Pantry, and Mission U-Too.

  10. Facilitate literacy for our neighbors. It’s hard to imagine how difficult even everyday tasks would be for a person without the ability to read, write, or speak English fluently. Literacy Volunteers of Bastrop is aiming to help improve the lives of people in that situation and has many opportunities for you to pitch in (volunteers need not speak another language).

This list just scratches the surface – check out Volunteer Smithville, the Bastrop Community Volunteer Center, or Elgin Volunteer Opportunities for some more great ideas.  And happy volunteering!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this information! These are truly some wonderful ways to give your time and energy to the community and volunteer. So many organizations here to tremendous things, all with the help of the people who spend so much of their free time making these wonderful things happen.