Here at Lotsa Helping Hands, we often find ourselves talking about the word community. Our vision is a world where everyone can give and receive help through the power of community. For us, community means so much. It’s about sharing one another’s life experiences. We too have our own community of dedicated people who spend much of their time designing and developing the best service possible, and ensuring that our free service gets into the hands of those who need it. On our Blog, we will be sharing helping others stories from our Team. This one comes from Paul Burney, our Chief Technology Officer.
I’ve always been proud of my contributions to Lotsa Helping Hands, taking the vision of a world where everyone can give and receive help through the power of community and realizing it through technology. The heartfelt testimonials of people who the service had helped in times of crisis drove me to do my best work. I didn’t truly understand the power of community though, until I found myself in a personal situation where juggling my own caregiving responsibilities became a reality.
Pneumonia Falls Upon Us
It happened all of a sudden. On a Thursday, my vibrant little 6-year-old girl had come down with some flu-like symptoms. Her pediatrician said not to worry and sent her home with us. That Saturday night she was breathing very fast and was not able to catch her breath; she seemed panicked for air. We took her to the local emergency room to see what was wrong. They immediately sent her via ambulance to a much larger research hospital a half-hour away, with paramedics constantly giving her oxygen.
She underwent a surgery immediately to remove excess fluid buildup in her lungs. While the surgery was a success, after it was over her little lungs were too compromised for her to breathe on her own. There my wife and I sat, day after day, week after week, praying that our little girl would get better, trying not to despair when considering the possibilities.
Community Helps Us Back From the Edge
We soon found our friends and family wanting to help in whatever way they could, and to be kept apprised of our daughter’s progress (or lack thereof). After a couple days of trying to return phone calls and emails, I decided to set up a Community through Lotsa. It felt odd going through the same steps I’d helped countless others through on the support lines, but after just a few minutes, I created a Community around my daughter, full of friends, family, and her school mates.
Through our Community, we kept everyone informed about her slow road to recovery. We also found people to take care of my older daughter while my wife and I stood 24-hour watch at the hospital. People used the Community to schedule their visits and to bring us home-cooked meals at the hospital. Everyone told us to hang in there on our Well Wishes page, and they provided us with the emotional support we needed to get through a very trying time. The irony that my family was now benefiting from the very technology we built at Lotsa Helping Hands was not lost on me, or those around me. Even my colleagues at Lotsa joined the Community organizing meals delivery and gifts for my daughters. I understand the importance of our work in new ways – beyond the technology – and am grateful for what we gained from the experience.
After more than three weeks in the ICU, our daughter was strong enough to be taken off of the respirator. When she first opened her eyes to us, we were flooded with tears of joy. She’d made it through the worst part of the ordeal. We still had a week left in the non-ICU portion of the hospital while she recovered more, and a couple months of physical and occupational therapy to guide her through, but our baby was back, thanks in large part to the support of our Community. We shared the happy news that our daughter was fully recovered via a Lotsa Helping Hands announcement three months after the ordeal began.
It’s not until you’ve spent a night in the hospital waiting room, or put together a quick meal to bring over to a neighbor overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for their sick loved one that you realize just how important — and just how lucky we were — to have a community of friends, family and neighbors around to lean on during hard times. At Lotsa, anything we can do to make organizing meals for a neighbor or caring for a caregiver just a little bit easier keeps us hard at work. Let us know in the comments how you’ve given or received help in a Lotsa Community. Good help helps everyone.
Share your helping others stories with us!