Giving back: an essential part of neighborhood-building


Alicia Briggs

– VOL. 5

For Venn neighbors, finding ways to give back to their communities has never been easier. In Kansas City, our monthly volunteering program kicks off with a bang, paving the way for ongoing opportunities to contribute and connect with the community at-large.

In September, one of our Kansas City Venn Hosts, Brad Brefeld, headed down to the Don Bosco Senior Center with several Venn Neighbors. Throughout the day, they packed up individual bags of groceries and then distributed them to families and individuals in need. 

“It’s nice to see different groups of people within the community all come together, especially on a Friday afternoon, and give back to those in need,” Brad reflected. “It’s also a great way to meet fellow neighbors and people in the community.”

Image of volunteering in Kansas City Don Bosco Senior Center

Neighbors joined Venn Hosts Brad Brefeld and Lindsay Mitchell, pictured front left and center, at the Don Bosco Senior Center for an afternoon of giving back to the local community.

One of the Venn tentpoles is providing neighbors with opportunities to give back to their communities. Not only are you helping people in need, but it’s also nice to all get together and work for one purpose,” continues Brad. “If you form a relationship within a volunteer effort, I think that’s such a wonderful, positive experience.” 

While the volunteers all started out as strangers, they were able to form new relationships through this experience with neighbors they may have never met otherwise. 

I’ve lived in buildings for 7 years and didn’t even know who my next door neighbor is,” says Brad. “But Venn Neighbors and community leaders really facilitate  these relationships, encouraging neighbors to knock on each other’s door and introduce yourself. I don’t think that usually happens in a lot of cities and apartment buildings.” 

“It’s nice to see different groups of people within the community all come together…It’s also a great way to meet fellow neighbors and people in the community.”

At the end of the event, the Venn Neighbors got to reflect on their experience over some ice cream from local favorite Tasty Unicorn. Many were inspired, thinking of new ways to give back and contribute next month. “I don’t know how you can have that kind of experience and not want to do it again… it’s such a positive environment.” 

Image of volunteering in Kansas City Don Bosco senior center

By the end of the event, Venn Neighbors had connected with hundreds of in-need seniors and youth from the community.

The Don Bosco event will be the first of many and the impact of the event did not go unnoticed. In one afternoon, Venn neighbors turned volunteers were able to distribute groceries to 124 households, 183 adults, 171 children and 98 seniors in need.  

Going forward, Brad plans to partner with different local organizations to provide monthly volunteer opportunities for neighbors. 

“I’m hoping that each month we can make a difference in the world and in Kansas City, because it’s really such a cool place. There are so many organizations and charities that need volunteers and this kind of assistance. Even just spreading the word about who they are and their mission. 

While Brad has big plans in store, he hopes that these events will be a jumping-off point for many people in the community, inspiring them to organize their own volunteer efforts on an ongoing basis. “Let’s give people the tools to facilitate change in terms of a better community.”

Volunteering may help build a better and stronger community, but it can also provide a sense of belonging and connection. “During times like these, where people have been through such a rollercoaster of emotions, I think it’s very important to give back to the neighborhood and give your life some purpose. That will trickle down and people will pass it on from person to person and give other people some positivity in their lives.”