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  • Jesse Flaris

MAking a Difference

“What do you do when you can’t do nothing, but there’s nothing you can do?”

“You do what you can.”

Over the course of the pandemic, I developed the unfortunate habit of being chronically online, as it was the closest thing that most of us had to actually going out in public. Unsurprisingly, I found myself keeping up with a lot of the public outrage surrounding social injustices and the pandemic. However, I noticed that the longer I spent on social media, the more I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be doing more, more to better myself as a person, more to educate myself on social issues, more to help those hurting around me. But as a broke college student who was stuck in his room all day, I struggled to find ways to contribute, then I came across the quote;

“What do you do when you can’t do nothing, but there’s nothing you can do?”

“You do what you can.”

In a show that is predominantly recognized as an adult comedy, The Boondocks often drops “gems of wisdom” for the audience to reflect on in the midst of an otherwise very chaotic show, and the episode “The Hunger Strike '' made no exception. Even without the context of the entire episode, one can recognize the power this quote holds. With how overwhelming the world and its problems can be at times, there is always something we can do, no matter how minuscule we view it.

The reason I was so impacted by this is because I always thought that making “real change” required holding positions of power or meant having a large role in some grandiose movement that radically changes people’s world view. An idea likely born out of ego and my desire to leave some sort of legacy by the time my life is over. I like to think that others can relate, but maybe I’m just more narcissistic than I thought. However, the more time I spent in reflection, the more I noticed opportunities to contribute to change everyday. I found those opportunities within my own community, finding safe ways to volunteer my time, keeping an open-mind towards different cultures and world views, educating myself, and voting in local elections.

Giving back to the community is one of the many ways we can maximize our potential as human beings. As cliché as the saying is, “humans are social creatures,” we do not exist in a vacuum, what we do has an impact on others and what others do can impact us. So it makes sense that we should be striving to build each other up through acts of kindness and continually educating one another. There are also many other benefits to doing good for your community, one being the effect it can have on your physical and mental health. “Studies have indicated that volunteering is great for your mental health,” said Susan Albers, PsyD, psychologist for Cleveland Clinic. “It has been shown to decrease stress levels, depression, anxiety and boost your overall health and satisfaction with life.” Outside of the individual benefits, volunteer work is also a great way to network with members within your community. It is also a great way to experience other cultures and gain a better understanding of those who view the world differently from you.

As we begin to transition out of the health and safety restrictions due to Covid-19, it is becoming easier to find ways to contribute to our communities. Below are a few of the many options we can take advantage of starting today:

  • Supporting local farmers and businesses

    • Shopping at local businesses helps create jobs and keeps the money in the community rather than giving it to these large corporations. Also, visiting farmers’ markets helps support local farmers and slows down the ongoing trend of a small number of corporations owning the majority of farms in America.

  • Caring for the environment

    • Some easy ways we can all care for the environment are the obvious ones. Learning to properly recycle, picking up litter in your community, conserving energy, and finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

  • Volunteer your time and skills

    • This doesn’t have to be the commitment most people think it is, it can be a few hours out of your week or month. As long as you're consistent with what you decide on, whether its an hour or two at your local food bank, helping a local non-profit build and maintain a website, coaching a local youth sports team, or whatever you feel fits your schedule and skillset the best

  • Donate to causes that you’re passionate about

    • Most people hear the word donate and assume money. While that is one very helpful way you can help contribute, not everyone has that luxury. Luckily, there are other options that are just as helpful, such as donating clothes you don’t wear, canned food, old toys, etc.

  • Stay educated on local elections

    • Stay up to date on latest election news, candidates, ballot measures, and fact check politicians by using sites like or or any other site you use to find information, as long as it's accurate. Knowing where you stand on issues and which candidates best support your views is a crucial part of contributing to change in your community.


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