After incarceration, you may reenter your community to realize you’ve lost that sense of connection to your town. Depending on the length of your incarceration, a lot may have changed within your community, and you may feel like an outsider. Luckily, there are ways to rebuild that connection such as clubs, volunteering, and meetup groups.
Why is a Sense of Community Important?
Feeling connected to your community helps foster a sense of belonging and provides support from others. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow theorized that there is a hierarchy of needs and each level on the hierarchy must be met before higher level can be considered. Physiological and safety needs are on the bottom of the triangle, so these are the most important and basic needs we have as humans. Love and belonging are the third tier in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which means that this level of needs must be met before other higher needs such as esteem and self-actualization can be met. Feeling connected to your community can satisfy this natural human need for love and belonging.
There are many ways to connect with your community regardless of where you live. Whether you live in a small town or big city, there are several opportunities to get involved and know your neighbor.
Most cities and towns will have a variety of clubs to join. If you like reading, try a book club. If you enjoy sports, join a team. You can locate these clubs either at your local community center or online by searching for groups in your area. Clubs are great because you will meet other individuals with a shared interest and can develop these relationships through regularly recurring meetings. It doesn’t matter how old you are or where your interests lie, there are groups for everyone.
Another great way to connect to your community is to give back. Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and make you feel like you are doing something meaningful for those around you. Whether you choose to volunteer at the local animal shelter, food bank, local park or other, you will be able to meet people, find satisfaction in helping others, and feel more involved in your local community. There are tons of national organizations as well as local opportunities for you to explore. To see what opportunities are available in your area, visit VolunteerMatch.
Join meetup groups
If you can’t commit to regular meetings, meetup groups are another great way to put yourself out there and get to know others in your area. Websites such as meetup are designed to connect individuals with similar interests and can give you the opportunity to meet people you would’ve never met otherwise and try out new things. There are meetups for all sorts of interests including rock climbing, trying out a new restaurant, hiking, attending a show, and more.
Attend local farmers markets
Most cities and towns will have farmers markets where local vendors come together to sell their produce, food, and sometimes even arts and crafts. Famers markets are a great gathering place and supporting the local businesses in your community can strengthen your neighborly bonds. Strike up a conversation with local vendors, let them get to know you and vice versa.
Join a church
If you practice religion, church groups are another wonderful place to seek support and community in your area. Many churches participate in food drives or other charitable events, which you can participate in to give back and help your local community.
Community is all about getting to know those around you and building meaningful connections with your neighbors. The best ways to connect to your community are putting yourself out there, giving back, and joining groups with similar interests.