I have been so busy these last few months with taking care of Alexis, amongst other things. One of those things is probably one of the most important things I have ever had the privalege of doing for the Diabetes Community. It is an offline position that I have been able to actually bring to online as well.
As many of you know I have been very active with my local JDRF for almost 4 years now, we got involved about year into Justice diagnosis. I was the Walk Chair for 2 years and sadly my time to say goodbye to that position came, but another chair was offered to me that I could not turn down.
One of my favorite, yet least favorite things to do is to welcome people into our community. Let’s be honest no one wants to be here, no one wants to be party of this “club”, but its also one of the most amazing, loving, caring and inspiring groups of people you will meet.
While I was Walk Chair, I was also a mentor. That means I was given information through the Bag of Hope program about a newly diagnosed family, I would then reach out to them, let them know about JDRF, our programs, and all the countless ways we can help their family. It's not an easy job let me tell you. I have cried on the phone with moms, I have heard the despair in dad’s voices that is all too familiar. But knowing that I was able to give them some hope, some support, some light during one of the worst times of their lives, meant more to me than anything.
So you guessed it. I am now the Las Vegas JDRF Outreach Mentor Chair. I still call people as a mentor, but I basically assign families to mentors such as Racheal and Sara, and ensure that everyone who received a bag of hope and wanted to be contacted by JDRF is contacted and given all the resources they need.
So many of us know from Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, TuDiabetes, TypeoneNation, and other places how much love and support is out there. But what if you don’t have access to online. What if you don’t know how to tweet, or even that there is a community waiting for you every Wednsesday to say hello and discuss diabetes topics?
That is why offline work is also just as important. Not all families have access to online resources, and some just aren’t comfortable with it, not yet anyway ;)
Reaching out into your local community, and being someone that these families can call or lean on whenever they need you is crucial. Building up your local JDRF chapter, is crucial. Spreading awareness is crucial. All of it is. From this blog post, to that tweet, to the phone call telling a parent “WE GET IT. YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.
I also know how important online community is. What happens when you are up at 3am with a low (or your child is), you need someone to vent to or lets be honest to help you keep your eye lids open, or your kids pump is malfunctioning, and you are freaking out while on hold with said company, or you just had a bad day. You need to bitch, you need to talk to someone who gets it, but maybe you don’t want to do it over the phone, you don’t want anyone to hear you cry. Online. Facebook, twitter, online forums, there is always someone there. Always. Maybe not in your state, or even country, but I guarantee someone will respond and talk you off that proverbial ledge.
So we did something exciting.
We meaning our Outreach Manager and myself. On all of our Las Vegas Bag of Hope forms, it now asks, “Would you like to be friend requested on FB?”.
To me that is HUGE. We are bringing offline efforts and support, into the online forum as well. We are joining both worlds and ensuring that whichever way a family turns there is someone there to help.
I am so proud of this program, and so honored to be part of it. I can see the effects it is having and its what I wish for all those newly diagnosed, or those who just have yet to find support.
A constant. A pillar of strength. An unwavering tower of light.
Online, offline, or both. It can be done. It needs to be done.
So how will you do it?
* Pictures of our mentor training*