Getting connected once you’ve moved to town, moved circles or moved jobs can make all the difference in your next opportunities and quality of life.

Should we state how it can make a difference and why it’s important? Perhaps engaging in your new environment will help you immerse yourself in the new culture of your organization or community. Jumping in and becoming involved can help you to get to know those with whom you work or live near and develop strong relationships.

Now you may be wondering what you could do to get involved. People tend to gather around a handful of things when they find themselves in a new place because of a move.  Regardless of what caused the transition — be it a new job, new relationship or new life circumstance — we all want to be connected. The following are five realms in which many people connect here in Colorado Springs.

The first seems the most obvious — food. To that, I’d add drink. There are countless food and drink pleasures and poisons to choose from in this town. It seems that every time I turn around there’s a new restaurant or brewery popping up. So when it comes to connecting, I’d suggest making the most of happy hours or special events that expose you to interesting new places that drive the local economy, but won’t break the bank. You may also choose to do it the old-fashioned way and take advantage of the summer weather by inviting some neighbors, co-workers, old friends or new acquaintances over to grill.

The next realm in which many connect is the visual or audible expression of our deepest passions, biggest fears or most joyful moments. The arts bring people together in strange and beautiful ways. Just check out PeakRadar.com to find the next artist, musician, exhibit or festival coming to town — and you’ll likely find some of your tribe there.

In a similar way, sports can bring different types of people together who otherwise might never cross paths. Be it mountain biking in The Chutes or casually cycling with UpaDowna, shooting hoops at the Y, yoga at the local studio, softball with the city’s Parks & Rec, or doing a MeetUp to hike the amazing trails throughout the region — just moving with or around others can introduce you to folks who confirm your love for a sport or spark an interest in a new one.

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The next way to connect — volunteering — may surround you with like-minded or like-hearted people. There’s something about serving or paying it forward alongside others that gives you perspective or stretches you in ways that sports may not. You can teach work-readiness skills in a classroom with Junior Achievement, sort food at Care & Share, join the Trails & Open Space Coalition in cleaning up your favorite park, mentor a youth with Big Brothers Big Sisters, or serve lunch at the Marian House Soup Kitchen — all of which have a positive impact on the community around us. There are countless ways to donate your time and talent in the Pikes Peak region.

Lastly, connecting with others through learning can expand your horizons. It’s not about going back to school, just get involved with a class or program that fires some synapses or empowers you in new ways. That could be a lecture about self-improvement, a small business seminar, a gun-safety class, a networking session with a group like Connect! Colorado Springs, a painting course (I hear those come with wine sometimes these days), a book club though our incredible library district or Bible study with some neighbors.

Colorado Springs is rich with opportunities to become involved. Stop nearly anyone on the street or around town, and they will likely be excited to share a few of their favorites. Another way to expose you to many of these sectors of the community can be found through Leadership Pikes Peak. Regardless of your recent transition or move, you can visit their website at LeadershipPikesPeak.org to check out the opportunities they offer. Their programs and events are a wonderful ways to introduce you to people and resources you might never have imagined.  Their motto says it all:  “Enrich. Engage. Empower. Connect.”

With 20 years’ nonprofit experience, Carrie McKee recently became president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado, which has the mission to inspire and prepare our youth to succeed in a global economy. Before JA SoCo, Carrie served as executive vice president at Pikes Peak United Way, where she championed the community-wide Cradle to Career initiative engaging regional leaders from business, education, government, foundations and nonprofit/public agencies. Before that, she spent a decade as area director for Southern Colorado Springs Young Life. Carrie began her career in the city working in marketing for the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1996. She holds a degree in speech communications from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she captained the national championship women’s basketball team in 1994. She serves on the board of Leadership Pikes Peak and is a graduate of its 2009 Signature Class. She can be reached at carrie.mckee@ja.org.