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Connecting With Your Community

Meghan Wypych

By Meghan Wypych, Marketing Specialist/Annual Giving Specialist, UnityPoint Health Foundation

I broke the biggest piece of advice given to every young professional in their 20s.

Yep! In the last six months, I have managed to start a new job, get married and buy a home.

No. This is not a moment or a platform to brag. Because in some ways I should have listened to advice given to me before starting this next chapter in my life.

As I reflect on the three milestones, there is one commonality I hope to find: a community.

There’s that saying about making a house a home. To me, the same goes for a community.

When moving to a new town, it’s scary not knowing your neighbors or what traditions go on in your neighborhood (like the annual garage sale the second week of April or mom’s bridge night the first Wednesday of every month). Let alone, how to immerse yourself in a place you truly want to call home.

Build your own community:

While easier said than done, here are three ways to build your community.

Get Active

Whether it’s meeting neighbors with similar interests and hobbies, organizing a book club or exploring the local parks and bike paths, the best way to build your community is getting active and putting yourself in environments you enjoy.

Volunteer

Giving back is one of the best ways to find your footing in a new place. This not only strengthens the community you are a part of but helps you find organizations and peers that share similar passions and strengths. Volunteering can take form in many ways: spend time at the local animal shelter, find opportunities to take on professional development opportunities at your work or in the industry or reach out to your local city chamber to see how you can help better your community.

Participate in Local Events

If you are a foodie or enjoy finding the newest hotspot in West Des Moines, don’t be afraid to check out all the local events that are happening around you. Follow local influencers, visit blogs or check out the local chamber of commerce for upcoming events happening in your area — and attend them! Many events support local businesses, restaurants and boutiques in areas where you work and live. Whether you are alone or with a group of friends, you will get a taste of what the city has to offer.

Join Me at This Year’s Raccoon River Rally

On October 8, The West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce will host its second annual Raccoon River Rally presented by Superstorm Restoration. This FREE, family friendly event is for anyone looking to explore West Des Moines and has a passion for live music, bike rides, food trucks and so much more.

Students, businesses, families and everyone in between are invited to support this local event. Attendees can spend the day at Racoon River Park with opportunities to explore the bike trail through a community bike ride, meet and greet with local businesses and enjoy time with other individuals who work and live in West Des Moines. In honor of giving back to our community, a portion of sponsorship proceeds will benefit the Athene Pedestrian Bridge capital campaign.

Regardless of if you have just moved to the area or you are celebrating your sixty-seventh year in West Des Moines, try something new and get a taste of West Des Moines’ fall festival, the Raccoon River Rally. Challenge yourself by getting active and sign up for the morning bike ride or register to compete in the cardboard boat race, Volunteer your time at the Rally or participate by attending and supporting your local chamber.

It’s daunting to think of creating a space to call home. You think of everything you are leaving behind and everything that is still yet to be built. In whatever season of life you are in, remember the community you are a part of not only helps you grow but you also help it grow. So, what will you do to strengthen your community?