But it is vital to remember that even the smallest pebble sends a ripple out, and that even the smallest act of community engagement and improvement impacts someone, somewhere. A group of ambitious and motivated young people in Albuquerque realizes that truth, and has embarked on a mission to play their own part—great or small—in addressing the needs of our community.
The nascent organization ServeABQ, awakened by the promise of a city that has so much to offer, is firmly dedicated to the power of volunteerism and community engagement. Their vision unites the codependent values of education and involvement; while individual efforts may have limited impact, by joining forces with the impressive and extensive (if underfunded) ranks of community partners already hard at work, individuals have a much bigger part to play.
This is especially true for young people, who have the energy, charisma and time to devote themselves to the neighborhoods and communities that raised them, but often may feel as if their role in the community is undervalued or undefined. ServeABQ strives to address that issue by introducing young professionals to the pre-existing avenues and endeavors that might most benefit from their assistance, and by exposing them to the reality of a city and community that is deeply troubled and profoundly capable of doing better.
I joined ServeABQ to spend a couple of hours with a dozen inspired local youth, along with six international good samaritans from Global Ties ABQ. We spent Friday afternoon cleaning a corner of the city and learning about the noble housing efforts of Heading Home, a community partner leading the charge to answer the plight of an unsettled and uncared-for population.
The homelessness issue in Albuquerque (and beyond) is well-publicized, but perpetually misunderstood. The reality of the situations some 1200 Albuquerque men, women and children face every night are overwhelmingly connected by a single thread: tragedy that has deeply disturbed and destabilized their lives. The measures that help to re-establish them as settled, engaged and fulfilled members of our community are simple, and hinge on establishing a backbone of consistency in everyday life.
The programs and services offered by Heading Home do just that. Heading Home is a remarkable organization that needs all the help they can get, and while donations and volunteerism (which are deeply appreciated and under-provided) are perhaps the most direct ways to achieve that, the simple willingness to be educated and make a concentrated effort to understand our shared reality can help heal social fractures and make Albuquerque a more unified, and thus stronger, city.
I invite and challenge you to play your part in learning about and getting involved in our collective community. Even one afternoon spent in the sun can open your eyes to a world of possibility; it can open them to your own potential and agency. If you don’t know where to start, or if you would like to find a group with whom you can make a more acute impact, ServeABQ is here with open arms and some special plans for this summer (and beyond).