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Supporting the Efforts of all Volunteers of Community Associations

Doing good may be its own reward, but most volunteers across the Carolinas would probably agree that it’s nice to be recognized for the time, effort and commitment they’ve put into serving others—particularly in what can sometimes seem to be thankless roles.

Members of our communities devote their energy and enthusiasm to making communities in the Carolinas the very best they can be. Most of the time they do this by serving in important board positions and committees, and on neighborhood projects. Volunteers also help keep assessments down—every hour of volunteer work is an hour of labor that the Southern Community Service Home Owners Association does not have to pay a service provider.

Below are some easy ways to show your neighbors how much you appreciate their hard work.

  • Keep an eye out for those featured in our newsletter’s Volunteer Spotlight. When you see them, introduce yourself and say “Thanks!”
  • Join us for our annual volunteer appreciation celebration. Help us honor those who have donated their time throughout the year, and have some fun.
  • Send an e-mail to a volunteer explaining that he or she is valued for stepping up.

As volunteers, your neighbors invest their time in projects that benefit you and the Carolinas. No association can thrive without them; so let them know you appreciate their efforts.

Have an idea for recognizing volunteers? Contact a board member and share!

We Don’t Need You

Please do not volunteer to help your homeowner’s association or serve on any committees. Here’s why:

  • Ÿ It’s a giant, scary responsibility.
  • Ÿ Your neighbors and friends will blame you for everything.
  • Ÿ All your free time will eventually disappear, and you’ll become enslaved to the association.
  • Ÿ You’ll have to work with terrible HOA managers who are a bunch of bombasts, dictators, figureheads and puppets.
  • Ÿ You’ll never have any fun ever again.

Besides . . . there’s no real reason to get involved; your HOA community is in fine shape—they don’t need you.


[Optional: Source: Community Associations Institute.]

Traits of Good Board Members

Do you have what it takes to be a good HOA board member? Chances are you do.

If you have a mix of some of the following traits and skills, consider running for a seat on the board and become a leader in your community.

  • Respect. If you can give others respect and expect it in return, you can help keep board discussions civil, productive and on point. We’re looking for people who can lead by consensus, not by command.
  • Good listening. People want to be heard. Can you listen to board members and residents with sincere interest? You may have a few ideas of your own, but everyone benefits by sharing and discussing.
  • Egos aside. If you can give others credit, the board will operate better as a team.
  • Thick skin. Sometimes, residents—even other board members—can be mean and insulting. Are you good at turning a conversation around and finding out what’s really bothering people?
  • Skill. An association is a business. So having board members with accounting, organizational behavior and teambuilding backgrounds can help. Someone with a financial background, for example, might make for a good treasurer.
  • Agenda aside. Members who come to the board on behalf of their own self-interest create a problem. A board is more productive when members don’t have a personal punch list. Are you able to look after the community, not just your own interests? Are you willing to compromise?

The ideal board comprises a mix of management styles, professional skills and temperaments. If you know any homeowners with some of these traits or relevant skills, ask them if they’d be interested in joining the board. Some people don’t think about running for a seat unless asked.

You don’t have to know everything when you join, but you should be familiar with the governing documents and the responsibilities of the job. Fellow board members and HOA managers can help you with the transition and train you on board responsibilities, current work, projects and hot issues.

Leaders can come from different places and backgrounds. There’s no one mode that fits all. Share your knowledge and passion with your community association.

Sign Me Up!

While serving on the board is probably the most visible example of volunteerism in your homeowners association, there are many other ways that you can contribute your time and talents to improving your community.

Your participation in the community is beneficial to you, your neighbors and your homeowners association. For example, common benefits gained by volunteering include:

  • making a positive difference in other peoples’ lives
  • meeting new people
  • boosting your resume—volunteer jobs are fair game
  • sharing or learning new skills
  • having fun

Don’t let your HOA community suffer from lack of enthusiasm. Even a few hours of your time can make a big difference in the culture of the community. Help generate goodwill, encourage “paying it forward” and strengthen the community.

Promoting Your Cause in the Association

So you’ve found a great cause and are looking for a way to rally support for it—wonderful! Of course, as you’ve thought about the people who could help your charitable cause, your friends and neighbors in your homeowner’s association community probably came to mind. The board encourages all residents in their altruistic endeavors and always welcomes any effort that fosters a philanthropic environment within the community. But before you start going door to door to fight cancer or whip up a bake sale to end hunger, please check with the HOA manager or a member of the board not only to make sure you’re within the homeowners association’s fundraising policies, but also to see if there is any way the association can help.

If you’re looking to get the community association involved in your charity, such as holding an event in one of the association’s common areas, come to a board meeting and propose your idea to the board. They’ll let you know what’s possible, and how to go about it. They may be able to recommend other places within the greater community that might be willing to work with you. Also, to help you get the word out, be sure to ask about mentioning your event in your HOA newsletters or on their website.

It’s caring people like you who make the community a great place to live, and want to give you the support you need to make a difference—so keep fighting for your cause and don’t hesitate to see what can be done to help.

A Helping Hand

Homeowners associations are not immune in a recession, and sadly, some homes have been abandoned. There have been homes foreclosed on and owners who have moved away. When banks take over these properties, they usually don’t realize they need to pay the regular assessment. With the depth of the foreclosure crisis and their own financial problems, banks are struggling to keep up.

It’s hard not to complain about a nearby property looking downtrodden. Everyone wants to come home to a community that they can be proud of. If the house next door is abandoned or not maintained, then offer to help. Be sure to check with your HOA first if you want to clean up an abandoned property. The property may belong to the bank, the association or the financially-strapped owner. If no one is given notice that volunteers are coming to maintain a property, trespassing charges can be filed—not exactly a nice return on generosity.

If given approval to access a property, there are simple things volunteers can do to improve the look. When the trash is cleaned up, the yard is watered and mowed, and the newspapers, door hangers and phone books are picked up off the porch, the home becomes less inviting to thieves and looks better.

Having unity in your HOA community has never been more important than in times like these. Thankfully, as neighbors, you always have one another. Don’t get angry, get helpful.