Social responsibility takes many forms; in general, it means acting to fulfil the obligation to benefit society at large. This could mean going green, doing chores for the elderly neighbor or simply picking up trash in a public park, especially if you weren't the perpetrator. This reminds me of a prayer I recite at Friday night services: "Pray as if everything depended on G-d, Act as if everything depended on you."

Recently I've been involved in a community-wide project aimed to help as many as 50,000 individuals a year in my home town. If you're interested in creating a movement centering on social responsibility, perhaps you can follow the steps we took:

Start With A Listening Campaign

I become involved with Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) about two years ago. This is an organization consisting of 50+ faith-based organizations in the Dallas area whose purpose is to engage area citizens in civic activities. So, we wanted to know first what was on people's minds, that is regard the issues of the day.

We did this by conducting a listening campaign in each of our faith-based organizations. My synagogue has over 3,000 families and my team and I were able to speak to over 500 people directly. The listening campaign was to find out the most important issue on people's minds; that way we could figure out what was needed in order to accomplish our social responsibility.

Tabulating The Results Of The Listening Campaign

Actually there were many issues that our participants voiced; they ranged from education to immigration to health care. However, in tabulating the results, issues were predominately centered around health care.

The next thing we did was break down all the health care issues. They ranged from access to health care itself to getting insurance to getting prescription drugs at a reasonable price. So, next we had a dot-ocracy. The leaders of DAI (about 60) met one evening and we listed all the health care issues on a flip chart. We needed to figure out from all the issues, which one would benefit the most people, which one was most immediate, and which one was the most "do-able." Each of us were given two sticky dots, and we each voted on the two that we thought were the most important.

The issue with the most votes was DME: Durable Medical Equipment, you know the stuff you have to use when you can get around on your own, such as crutches and wheel chairs.

How Can You Take Social Responsibility With A Wheelchair?

What we found is that there were tons of people in the area that had durable medical equipment just sitting around their homes, cluttering closets and garages. My late mother always wished for a garage that held nothing but cars. This equipment was from a previous illness or, the vestiges of a family member's demise. On the other hand, we found many incidents in need of such apparatus.

Why not create an exchange where people can come and donate their items and those in need can come and select what they need? Everyone wins and you get the satisfaction you've helped your fellow citizen.

What is your idea of social responsibility?