Feeling Hopeless? Here Are Nine Ways to Get Involved and Help Your Community

Let's get to work.

Photo via iStock/william87

Photo via iStock/william87

In the wake of Donald Trump’s unlikely victory on Election Night, many of those who did not support the Republican nominee were left feeling hopeless and despondent about the future, especially as Dow futures plunged 750 points.

For the first time in history, a man who has neither served in the military nor held elected office will assume the presidency. And of course, it isn’t just any man—it’s one who called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country; who has vowed to punish women who seek abortions and repeal Obamacare; who brags about grabbing women by their genitalia; whose running mate supports conversion therapy, the practice of electrocuting homosexuals until they’re straight, which has been proven to lead to suicide.

There’s no time to sit around feeling gobsmacked. That Gandhi quote about being the change you’d like to see in the world feels trite, but if there’s to be progress forward, you need to channel that disappointment into positive, tangible change in your community.

So let’s get to work, shall we?

Register to vote.

If you missed out this year, for whatever reason, waste no time registering to vote. The next election, whether municipal, state, or national, is always just around the corner, and it’s the most fundamental way to participate in our democracy. To register online, follow the steps here. You must have a valid driver’s license, learner’s permit, or non-driver ID issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, as well a signature on file with the RMV.

Organize a voter registration drive.

The city offers a few easy guidelines for this. Get a stack of mail-in forms from the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, help unregistered voters fill them out, and send them to the corresponding city and town halls on the state’s handy list. Remember: In order to participate in an election, you must be registered at least 20 days prior.

Attend a community meeting. Any community meeting.

Whether it’s a Boston Planning and Development Agency meeting on a new project in your neighborhood, or a City Council committee hearing on a issue you’re especially passionate about, make your presence known. After all, 80 percent of success is just showing up.

Run for office yourself.

If you’re passionate and informed on the issues, why wait for a candidate to come along and represent you? Even if its a seat in town meeting, Massachusetts’ time-honored ritual of self-government, you can’t hope to change the system unless you’re part of the system.

Donate to Boston-area immigrants rights groups.

Universal Hub has rounded up a list of local immigrants rights groups, including the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, the Chelsea Collaborative, The Welcome Project, and Sociedad Latina.

Attend a Greater Boston PFLAG support meeting.

Through education and advocacy, the Greater Boston PFLAG (Parents, Friends, and Family of LGBTQ People) works to create a safe, inclusive environment for LGBTQ people. The group holds regular chapter support group meetings, open to everyone, and could always use volunteers around their offices.

Help those with disabilities and special needs.

Since 1985, Partners For Youth With Disabilities has paired volunteers with long-term partners as part of its Mentor Match program. The Charles River Center, meanwhile, offers habilitation and recreational programs for those with developmental conditions like autism, Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy.

In fact, volunteering at any of the 23 local health organizations on the list we compiled last year is a leap in the right direction.

Volunteer at the Boston Area Rape-Crisis Center.

BARCC is looking for volunteers of all ages to help end sexual violence and offer unflinching support for survivors. No prior experience is necessary, and all training is provided by BARCC staff. A list of volunteer positions can be found here.

Send an interfaith message of support.

The Ku Klux Klan-endorsed Trump campaign elevated virulent antisemitism and Islamophobia. Find a synagogue or mosque around town, and send a note expressing your solidarity against the forces of ignorance and hate. What unites us as Bostonians, and Americans, is far stronger than what divides us.

Check out the NAACP’s Boston Branch.

Despite its key role in the abolitionist movement, Boston remains one of the most segregated cities in the country. The NAACP’s Boston branch, the organization’s first, is located in Roxbury, and accepts members of all colors in its fight against racial discrimination in housing, employment, voting, healthcare, education, and the courts.

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Of course, these tips are merely a place to start. Go to where the need is greatest in your community and starting working to make a difference, no matter how small.