Five Ways to be a Good Neighbor in April

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National Poetry Month 2014 PosterLike a pebble plunk

Making circles in a pond,

Good neighbors reach out.

Like my haiku? It’s in honor of National Poetry Month, one of many, many great things you can get involved in as a “good neighbor” in your community. Pick one of these five suggestions and reach out!

1. Celebrate Poetry: As I said, April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate an important and cherished art form. Libraries and poets laureate all over the Bay Area are marking the month with special events and displays to help people interact with reading and creating poetry. Folks at the Oakland Public Library decorated the staircases from top to bottom with poems created by Oakland Youth Poet Laureates, California poets, and children’s poets. In Cupertino the Poet Laureate has launched a Poetry Exchange, where people can see new poems daily, or contribute their own poems. Contact your local library to find out what special events are happening in your city.

2. Take Care of the Planet: Earth Day is coming up on April 22, but you can celebrate the planet all month long at numerous festivals and volunteer service events. Most of the biggest events are taking place on Saturday, April 19, but there are others like Earth Day Marin on Sunday, April 6, or the Oakland EarthEXPO on Wednesday, April 9. Some cities are celebrating on Saturday, April 26. In San Jose you can pitch in that day to help with the Great American Litter Pick Up. Contact your city hall to find out what’s happening near you.

3. Honor Volunteers: Recognize our favorite kind of people April 6-12, National Volunteer Week. Take time to say “thank you” to the inspirational people you know who give of themselves to make the world a better place.

4. Drive Focused!: April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Safety Council, the California Highway Patrol, and many other agencies want to remind us to not use cell phones while driving, to understand that hands free is not necessarily the safe alternative, that cognitive distraction is dangerous to the brain, and they want us to tell those we love of the dangers of using cell phones while driving. Remember, one text or call could wreck it all.

5. Build for Others: Saturday, April 26, is National Rebuilding Day, when Rebuilding Together chapters around the country bring together thousands of volunteers to rebuild and refurbish homes of people in need. There are several chapters in the Bay Area in need of volunteers; see the national Rebuilding Together website to find the chapter near you. You can also volunteer for ongoing Habitat for Humanity building projects. Check out chapters in San Francisco and East Bay/Silicon Valley. All thumbs? Donate money to any of these worthy organizations.