Contributed by Nora Stasio
The other day, I was telling my Grandmother about Lotsa Helping Hands. “If you’re going through a hard time, you can find volunteers from your area to come and give you a hand with things,” I explained.
“I don’t like that,” she said. “Strangers coming to your house?”
“Well, yes, but… if you called for a nurse to come to the house, wouldn’t she be a stranger too?” I suggested.
“Yes, but nurses are registered and certified. They have to pass tests and be hired. They’re not just any old person off the street.”
She had a good point and I understood her feelings. But then I thought, should that really be the most important quality for a caregiver? Having a certification? Isn’t there a bit more that’s required? I act as caregiver for both grandparents and my special-needs sister while not being a certified health-care professional by any means. And it doesn’t matter – I’m trusted with the job because it’s well known how deeply I care for my family.
The funny thing is, I can’t take my Grandmother anywhere without strangers offering to help us. They see me inching along behind this feeble old woman, shuffling ever so slowly down the dairy aisle (she can barely move her legs, yet she insists on going to the grocery store to get just right kind of ricotta cheese to make ziti) and the passing strangers take pity on us. They open doors for us, clear pathways, even help me get her in and out of the car. She accepts their help very graciously, since we honestly do need it most of the time.
I’d venture to say that most of these strangers are not registered nurses. They’re helping us because they are genuinely nice people who care about others. They didn’t pass any tests and weren’t hired by anyone, yet they always seem to do an excellent job at helping us. In the end, what’s more important in this job – certificates or a caring nature?
Caregivers for hire are only part of recent history. Beyond that, there has only been family. Family members were expected to take care of their needy kinfolk out of the goodness of their own hearts. If a stranger in today’s world has that same kind of heartfelt motivation and offers to help you out, shouldn’t that be uplifted and celebrated? It’s one thing to help others because you’re being paid to do so – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it’s another thing to help simply because you want to while asking for nothing in return. That is a truly amazing virtue. And that’s what makes volunteers, like the kind you can connect with through Lotsa Helping Hands, so special.
Of course, Grandma never actually asks for help from any of the strangers we encounter on our outings. I know she’s the type that never would ask for help from strangers and I can understand why. She spends almost all day watching the news, hearing stories of people doing horrible things to one another. Not to mention, she grew up in a crime-ridden city where she was sternly told everyday by her mother, “Don’t talk to strangers,” so it’s easy to sympathize with her feelings of distrust.
But the world is changing rapidly, thanks to this ‘internet age’ in which we’ve found ourselves. The way people make connections has been entirely transformed. These days, through sites like Twitter, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe, we are often forming relationships with people we’ve never actually seen with our own eyes.
Lotsa Helping Hands is an organization that has seen the beauty of this brave new electronic world and seeks to harness its energy as a way to bring help to those in need. And what’s great about Lotsa Helping Hands is that you don’t actually have to accept help from all of the volunteers who might contact you. You can spend some time getting to know them first through emails or chat. You’re always the one in control of the situation.
Caring volunteers are out there. What the needy need to be willing to do is ask for help. If we can accept help from paid nurses, and even passing strangers, why can’t we accept it from those we haven’t met yet?
In a way, my Grandma is right. It would be silly to ask for caregiving assistance from someone off the street. But that’s not what we do here at Lotsa Helping Hands. We provide a place where people who are willing to help others can volunteer with those who need care in a quick, easy, and safe way. If you’ve been afraid to ask for help before, it’s not too late to do so now.