Late in July, my twenty-two year old nephew was informed he had a brain tumor twice the size of a golf ball, requiring immediate surgery. As Lotsa’s CEO, I found myself once again as a first-hand witness to how Lotsa Helping Hands can have a profound effect not only on the family caregivers and the patient, but also on the community of volunteers and supporters that rally behind them.
My sister and her family, led by my niece, reached out to their extended family and circles of friends and created a Lotsa Helping Hands Community, now almost 100 people strong. Perhaps the best way to communicate what the community has meant to everyone is to share a few of the posted messages:
“We have felt a powerful web of love and positive energy surrounding us all week. I didn’t realize what a difference it would make.”
“I find myself checking … much more than normal, eager for updates. Please know that your support network is much bigger than you could ever imagine.”
“However extensive you believe your net of love and support network to be, I am certain that it’s much more than that.”
“So happy to read the updates…. It’s almost like we’re there with you.”
Only my nephew and his family truly know what this amazing support has meant to them. But as an active member of their Community I have observed a profound phenomenon: members of the Community come from so many various circles – my nephew’s kindergarten teacher, college friends, my sister’s colleagues, extended family from two sides, parents of my niece’s friends – yet in some unexpected way, despite being strangers, we all now feel connected. Certainly the purpose of my nephew’s Lotsa Community was to provide help and support for the family. But it has been amazing to personally witness how the sense of community has bolstered all the rest of us during the tense times before, during, and after surgery.
When someone we love and care about is struggling during the often surreal experience we call ‘caregiving’, we too feel ourselves floating untethered during the uncertainty, wanting to do something helpful, say something meaningful, yet not wanting to become part of the burden. As a member of my sister’s Lotsa Helping Hands Community, I am reminded of the latin derivation of the word ‘community’: ‘together’ + ‘gift’. We all benefit from the gift of coming together in community to help those around us.
This August, if you know someone who is caring for a loved one, consider creating a community for them. It only takes a minute, and it’s one of the easiest ways to offer your help and support during a tough time. And you may be surprised how the help and support extends far beyond the family you are helping!
Hal Chapel is CEO and Co-Founder of Lotsa Helping Hands.