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Growing by giving back

For every Liberal Party member out there, there’s another who thinks that they know what’s wrong with the Liberal Party. Some of them think it can be fixed, while others think its too late. At the risk of sounding like one of those geniuses that know how to fix the party, I would like to share an idea. It’s an idea that has been around for a long time, so I certainly can’t take credit for it, but its an idea that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Simply put: give back to the community, and the community will give back to you.

I’m talking about community outreach. As I said, this idea has been around for a long time, and it is starting to take hold in many circles within the Party. In fact, I read an interesting article addressing this issue by a Young Liberal, Max Naylor, several months ago. Max boldly suggested that, “for every position you hold in the Young Liberals of Canada, aim to hold one community, charity or volunteering position outside of politics.” While¬† I wouldn’t go as far as to ask Party members to take on another formal community positions, thus making a commitment that could prove difficult for them to keep, I do believe that this is an admirable proposal. Max was 100% correct when he said, “Liberals are smart, engaged and responsible citizens on places like Twitter and Facebook. That should be true off line as well.” I agree with him completely. However, many of our members are quite busy with Party, family, and work commitments, and asking them to pick up a formal position in a community organization might prove to be too much for them. Remember, a burnt out volunteer who is too tired to show up at events is no use to the Party or the community organization.

I would simply suggest that Liberals, and certainly not Young Liberals exclusively, find time in their hectic work weeks and months to volunteer on occasion. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in your communities without making a formal commitment. In fact, why not make it a Liberal event. The Barrie Young Liberals have been doing it for months. Get a bunch of Liberals together, put on a Liberal red shirt, and do something nice for your community. Go to a community event and support the organizations that are holding the event. Go to a downtown park and pick up garbage. Getting involved in your community doesn’t have to be something as formally committing as joining your local food bank or library board, although if you have time then by all means, please do so. It can be as simple as showing up at an event a couple times a month with a Liberal shirt on. It can be as simple as wearing a Liberal shirt to the park, and picking up a piece of garbage.

The idea behind formally joining a community group is a noble one: join the group, help your community, and recruit members from the group to join or support the Party. That is a wonderful idea, and I wouldn’t disagree with it for a second. What I am suggesting, is that for people who maybe don’t have the time or will to formally join an organization, non-committal community outreach can be just as effective. Of course, you’re not going to have that close interaction with others that you would have in a dedicated community organization, so finding new members right away might not be as easy, but I am looking at an even larger goal. At some point, the word Liberal became a bad word. People seem to shy away from it. They view it as a dirty political word. A machine. An exclusive club. By engaging in community outreach, including non-committal community outreach when ever you have time, we can change that perspective. We can show them that a Liberal is someone that helps out in their community. That a Liberal is someone that makes their life better, by both policy and community outreach. When people hear the word “Liberal” and think of people helping their community, then we have truly won. We need people to hear the word “Liberal” and think, “that’s people like me, making the community a better place,” instead of, “that’s a political party;” then we have truly won. That is when we will have truly rebuilt the Party into a modern political movement.

Take a few hours every month, and do something for your community.

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