Something that has been on my mind lately is how much I've benefitted as a result of “giving back” since Peter was born. When we are faced with life-altering challenges, those trials can be like a fork in the road. We can grow, learn, and become better people, or we can wallow in self-pity and become hopeless and depressing to be around. I’ve spent time in both places, but I eventually chose to take the more positive path.
Volunteering my time and skills is a huge blessing in my life. The professionals I have learned from, the parents I have helped, and the many friends I have made are just a few of the benefits I’ve received through volunteering. If you are looking for ideas, here are some activities I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in...
- Parent Advisory Role – there are many opportunities to participate as a family advisor to hospitals or state legislative groups for children with special needs.
- Family Faculty Programs – many hospitals are now inviting parents to speak to staff about their experiences. I have done this and have found it to be very rewarding.
- Writing – sharing your story and experiences via a personal or professional blog, submission to a newsletter like the one CCA has, or submitting to a magazine.
- Online Support Groups – there are many Yahoo! Groups you can become involved with. CCA moderates several groups to help craniofacial families stay in touch and share information. I’ve been involved with several groups for many years (Goldenhar, BAHA, Microtia/Atresia, Tube-Fed Kids). It is so easy to share a simple tip or advice with other parents via online groups. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have also become easy venues to stay in touch and share information.
- Fundraising – maybe you want to spread awareness within your community by organizing a fundraiser for CCA or your children’s hospital.
- Education – speaking at your child’s school helps to spread awareness and acceptance for all children with disabilities. CCA has information about speaking at schools if you need some direction to get started. For me, speaking to Peter’s peers was an amazing and rewarding experience. I highly recommend it!
Maybe take some time as this year draws to a close to think of ways you might give back. Sharing your time, skills, or experiences is a wonderful gift to offer as well as a great example for your kids.