Helping one another is part of being a community member. It's a sign that I belong, that I care. I am often the one who is doing the helping, but it is not uncommon for me to be the recipient either. "Helping out" often crosses the line with the idea of "participation", but that's ok. I'm not trying to right a dissertation here, so I don't mind if the points of discussion get a bit muddled.
I find that helping out forms community bonds. In the past hubby and I have helped erect a quonset hut, lent a hand building a roof, helped install solar systems. We spent a day with a group cleaning a local beach, another day helping with a whale count. We joined a group of community volunteers cleaning up trash in the local park. We have taken care of livestock when owners spent few days away. We've rounded up stray livestock, weedwacked overgrown lawns, gone food shopping and cooked meals. I help at the spay/neuter clinics. Hubby helps people with their computers and loads their e-readers with books.
Not everyone in a community is capable of physically lending a hand. That doesn't mean that they aren't active community members. Helping out can be as simple as making a daily phone call to check on a house bound senior. Many of us here live alone, so a daily check by a neighbor can be very valuable and appreciated.
I look around and see all sorts of examples of residents helping residents. I see people care taking a house or caring for animals while the owners are away. I see people cooking meals for someone that's sick. I person in the community recently had surgery, and folks came to mow the lawn, water the house plants, and pretty up the house with flowers before they came home from the hospital. An elderly man ran out of firewood and a younger person came and spent several hours cutting up a hugh pile of branches and tree trunks, enough to last months if not a year. When I needed advice about a permit problem, a community member searched out the right person for me to contact. A sick resident was returning to the mainland to be with family, so her community organized a luncheon in her honor.
This month I'm helping my next door neighbor get his overgrown property under control. I've staked out 4 sheep and a goat, moving them around twice a day. Once they eat or trample the grass down, I mow the munched area and collect the grass clippings for mulching my garden. It's a win-win situation for everybody. My livestock gets to eat virgin grass, they get the attention from my neighbor several times a day (thus taming the wild ones), the neighbor gets rid of his overgrown grass, I get truckloads of grass clippings. The neighbor has a whole acre that needs to be munched by the sheep, so the critters will be happy for quite awhile. Since the area will eventually become a garden, the dirt will benefit from the manure and urine. Plus by having the adults next door, my own pasture has a chance to grow.
Tomorrow we will be helping with the July 4th celebrations. Yeah, it's only June 29th, I know but that's when the town is doing it.
Lest you think otherwise, I don't spend my life just helping others. On the contrary, I have a farm to run, a house to build, a husband to take care of. But I find myself interacting with my community in lots of little ways, and sometimes a big way once in a while. Plus some of the things we do count as entertainment, really! A beach cleaning day or a barn raising day is like a working vacation. Something different to do, often fun, a very satisfying.