Instead of making a long list of New Year's goals, try setting a theme to shape your aspirations and actions throughout the year. One option could be: "Make an impact on our community."

Here are 10 New Year's resolutions to help you live out your theme—and help central Iowa thrive.

  1. (78).jpgGet involved in a recurring volunteer program. Using some of your limited time to volunteer on an ongoing basis allows you to make a bigger impact on one organization or individual. Plus, you'll feel more connected to the work and find it more meaningful. Here are some options. Find dozens of opportunities through our volunteer database.

  2. Join a community organization. Meet new people, share your passion with others, and work together to improve central Iowa. Consider joining:
    • Your neighborhood association
    • A group based on a shared cause or issue
    • United Way of Central Iowa's Women United devoted to early childhood learning
    • United Way's Education Leadership Initiative dedicated to supporting middle school students 
    • LINC (Lead. Impact. Network. Change.) for young professionals who care about meeting the essential needs of central Iowans

  3. day on the hill 2016.jpgRaise your voice. Advocate for issues that impact our community.
    • Have a conversation with your elected officials about an issue that matters to you.
    • Attend city council meetings or public meetings of elected officials to learn about issues in our community. 
    • Participate in lobby days, such as United Way'sDay on the Hill on January 31.
    • Sign up for legislative updates from United Way of Central Iowa.

  4. Join the board of a local nonprofit. In addition to providing substantial professional experience, board service gives you an opportunity to guide the future of an important organization here in central Iowa. Browse opportunities at local nonprofits through Leadership Link.

  5. Book_Buddys_Fall_2013__10.jpgRead to a child. One in five central Iowa students are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade, which makes them four times more likely to drop out of school before graduation. United Way of Central Iowa's READ to SUCCEED campaign is working to help more students learn to read. Join us by:
    • Reading to your own child on a daily basis.
    • Pointing out words and reading materials as you see them to kids you know.
    • Volunteering as a Power Read mentor to read with a elementary school student once a week.
    • Volunteering as a Book Buddy to read with preschool kids every week.
    • Organizing a book drive at your church or workplace.

  6. Mentor someone. According to Connections Matter, science tells us that relationships have the power to shape our brains and improve our overall well-being. A sustained relationship with one person not only makes a real impact on their life but can improve your own mood and social skills, as well. Explore these opportunities:
    • Mentor an individual within your professional network or company.
    • Apply to join a professional mentoring program like Community Connect.
    • Mentor local learners, including homeless youth, refugees, or middle school students.

  7. Rahel Ngejah.jpgHelp reduce poverty in central Iowa. One in three central Iowans are not financially self-sufficient. To reduce that number, a coalition of business leaders and philanthropists, government and school leaders, nonprofit and faith leaders, and community members have created the OpportUNITY Plan to bring financial stability and prosperity to the central Iowans who live in, or near, poverty. Join a work group, subscribe to the quarterly newsletter, or receive action alerts by signing up here

  8. Help central Iowans meet their essential needs. Before families can become financially stable, they first need consistent food and shelter. Schedule an outing with family, friends, or co-workers to volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry. Or organize a canned food or toiletries drive at your workplace.

    community garden 3.jpg
  9. Start a community or corporate giving garden. Iowans eat fewer fruits and vegetables than any other state. Help change that by growing fresh produce for your neighbors and/or local food pantries.

  10. Stay informed about United Way of Central Iowa. We provide updates on our work, potential volunteer opportunities, and information about the challenges we are tackling to meet our Community Impact Goals for 2020. Subscribe to one or more of the following:

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Elisabeth Buck

About The Author: Elisabeth Buck

Elisabeth Buck is the president of United Way of Central Iowa. As the organization’s chief executive she leads United Way’s strategies to achieve substantive community impact in the priority areas of Education, Income, and Health to improve lives and build a stronger central Iowa.