01/07/2015 03:20 EST | Updated 03/09/2015 05:59 EDT

Your New Year's Resolution Should Be To Give Back To Your Community

Just like many of you, my month of December was extremely eventful -- and worthwhile. What made it busy and worthwhile at the same time was not the gift purchasing, family gathering, or turkey eating. It was being able to give back to the community. Let me explain.

Late in 2013, I joined the boards of the West Richmond Community Association (WRCA) and Heart of Richmond AIDS Society. The WRCA oversees the operation of the West Richmond Community Centre, which I frequented throughout my childhood for sports lessons, summer camps and community events.

A couple years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to someone who was living with HIV/AIDS. This person was in town meeting a family member. As I normally do, I asked a lot of questions and eventually did my own research to learn a bit more. Many people living with HIV/AIDS struggle, because medication that can have awful side effects. I wanted to give back and help people out in some way, directly or indirectly.

Early in 2014, I joined the Richmond Youth Service Agency's (RYSA) board as I saw that they offer programs that aim to help young people succeed. So many people out there have, including myself, spent a lot of time finding out what they want to do, what their goals are what their respective purposes are in the world. But what our education system misses out on are programs to help young people make that connection between secondary school and post-secondary. And these are young people from wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

Nevertheless, being on the board of these non-profit organizations in Richmond did allow me the opportunity to attend a few holiday/Christmas parties last December. At the annual dinner for Heart of Richmond members, it was truly an incredible experience to meet and talk with people living with HIV/AIDS. These are folks who are just like you and me. But some do live in such impoverished conditions that you wouldn't have thought that this happens in Canada.

Moreover, I found myself weeping inside hearing one man talk about the side effects of the HIV medications he was taking. None of us would want headaches through the night or constant throwing up as part of our daily lives. Yet, there are people that have to deal with this.

But it doesn't take a personal connection for someone to decide to donate their time to an organization or cause. Whether it's poverty, homelessness, mental health, income inequality, older adults abuse or any other cause, pick one or many and learn about them. Then learn about what you can do to help. To those who actively volunteer or did in the past, power to you. Keep it going in 2015.

Too often, when it comes to making New Year's resolutions, we, as people, are introspective. We make resolutions like exercising more or cutting down on carbs that can have an impact on ourselves - but how much and for how long? Generally speaking, we're too often self-indulged in the next best thing that might give us a trickle of happiness. Helping out other people may give you that trickle of happiness - but more importantly, it can do a world of good for those less fortunate. We're all people living in one giant community and saying you care isn't enough - go out and participate! Make your 2015 resolution to volunteer your time to an organization or for fighting a cause.