Pay it Forward: Creating a culture of community service

I ran into a friend and her son the other day at SaveUMore. I was in a hurry to get cream for my coffee and pick up my kids at their piano lesson, but I stopped and chatted with her about the bear troubles they had been having around their house.

As she was walking away, she told me, “You make this community a better place. Thank you.”

I was floored. What a kind and wonderful thing to say! Someone had noticed my efforts. I can still picture her son, looking up at his mom as she said that. He was learning so much in that moment. He was learning that making a difference in his community is important. That it’s important to recognize people who contribute. That taking time to make connections in the grocery store is more important than hurrying through.

I try to be the same kind of role model for my kids. It’s the reason why, even as a single mom with limited resources, I give many hours of my time and talents in service. Telling them it’s important isn’t enough, I have to live my values. I involve my kids and have them help me with my volunteer projects, so they will know the satisfaction of doing something helpful for others. I consider it a part of their home-schooling because this is really what I want them to learn in life.

Every year I also have them pick a local charity to donate money to out of their PFD through the Pick.Click.Give program. I love seeing how proud they are when they receive their thank-you letters from their organization of choice.

I started thinking about what Homer would be like if we all believed making a difference in our community was important. What if we all shared our talents, time, energy, and/or money for the greater good? What if we took the time to recognize people who made this community a better place?

There are so many people in Homer that already do this. Do you know someone? Do you tell them how much you appreciate them and are grateful for their service?

We are creating a culture of community service here. It’s not just a requirement to graduate from high school, but something that we do at all ages because it really makes this community a better place to live.

Thank you to all who make this community a better place!

Saskia Esslinger, garden guru, is a certified Permaculture designer and teacher, and founder of Teach Gardening, and the Homer Seed Library.

Pay It Forward is an article series sponsored by the Homer Foundation that features a local voice discussing topics related to strengthening community through giving and volunteerism. Please visit and find us on Facebook and Instagram.