I had a realization last month as I was paying my bills… I hardly had any paper bills arriving in the mail. Over time so many companies have adopted the use of automatic deductions and frankly, I appreciate the convenience of it all. Many of my standard utility bills and even my mortgage are now conveniently being deducted from my account. Think about all of the things that we now subscribe to: Netflix, Disney+, Blue Apron, gym memberships- all conveniently charged to your checking account without any effort on your part.
The good news? The same can be achieved with nonprofit organizations. Most organizations have adopted this form of subscription giving so their donors can make a monthly contribution with the same ease as your Hulu subscription.
The benefits are twofold:
My husband and I went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University and the philosophy was to create a budget that allows you to pay off debt, save for the future and ultimately be able to give back like no other.
We were able to craft our monthly budget to allow a portion of our income to be donated to our church and charity of choice and to be able to do so month after month without feeling strapped for funds. For our income level, this helps us feel comfortable with being able to give more without having to write a big lump sum.
I highly recommend taking a look at your budget and seeing if you could reallocate some funds to be able to give back to your favorite organization. If you’re looking for a program to help you create a monthly budget that allows you to not only create more financial peace of mind but also be able to donate more consistently check out Every Dollar app (perk- it’s free).
Even if you can only afford $10 a month, which may not sound like a lot, over the course of a year that’s $120 and that can make a huge difference for a nonprofit!
Now time for my shameless plug: If you feel a tug at your heart to give consistently, the Olivia Caldwell Foundation has a Circle of Hope monthly subscription giving program. It’s all managed online- you pick the amount that works for your budget and can pause or cancel any time. When you donate monthly, you’re a part of a special community who is committed to saving more children by funding pediatric cancer research and sustaining the programs that support families of children battling cancer and other serious diseases in Wyoming and surrounding areas.
Caregivers are superheroes. If you are a caregiver, you know that it takes an incredible amount of time and energy to ensure that your loved one - no matter the age, children being no exception - has what they need to thrive!
But what about you?
It may seem a little backwards to think about taking care of yourself, especially if you have a child with medical needs, or even a little selfish. Shouldn’t we be talking about how to better care for your child?
If you want to be able to take the best care of your child who may be sick (chronic or short term), you need to be in the best shape you can be during this season. We all know this, but when things are a little overwhelming in your family, it can be hard to take the necessary steps to do what we know we need to do. Here are a few things to consider about yourself during this time.
It is critical to make sure that you, as the caregiver, are healthy. It is stressful and time consuming to care for your child. In order to make sure that your own health does not become a problem, block out some time for simple exercise (walking, swimming, 15 minute youtube fitness video). Are you eating well-rounded meals?
Along with the appropriate intake of protein, veggies, fruits, grains and healthy fats, keep track of how much water you are drinking. Put in your calendar a “wind down” time so that you can get the best sleep, even if it’s not the most sleep. Check in with your own doctor for routine visits and if possible, try to limit alcohol and avoid smoking or tobacco.
There is no doubt that stress is a part of your life. Some of the suggestions under the Physical category can help us deal with it and sometimes we need to focus a little more on how we feel. Slowing down to check in with ourselves can actually feel a little threatening - being busy looking after our child can keep us from dealing with our own emotions from the situation.
Do not be ashamed to cry! Tears are an incredible release. Go to coffee with a trusted friend or family member that you can process through what it’s like for you to have an ill child - build yourself some safe spaces to be honest, raw and real.
It is also ok to laugh. We may find a twinge of guilt start to come over us if we have a chance to do something fun while our loved one is in a difficult situation. Being able to keep our senses of humor in hard times can help alleviate stressful situations and maybe even bring a little health to our own bodies.
If it is just too much to bear on your own and you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone already in your circle, don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor. They can do some amazing work in a safe, confidential space to help you process whatever is before you.
As a caregiver, there are a million and one things on your mind about your child. Sometimes it is necessary to be able to focus on something else to give your mind a break. What sort of hobbies do you have? It’s ok to take some time and do some of them. Summer is here and there is plenty of warm weather to garden, golf, hike, journal, paint, bike or even picnic! It will help you think more clearly about those million and one things for your child if you take the time for a mental break.
The world is full of ideas on spirituality and religion. If you have a particular faith, that may be another great avenue to find some strength to carry on. Take the time to go to a small group or service and explore if there are any nuggets of wisdom and hope that you can pass along to your child.
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”
We know that caring for a sick child is hard. We are so grateful that so many of these children have amazing parents who are putting it all on the line for them! We also believe that the whole family deserves care and support during their child’s illness. Finding healthy coping strategies to make sure you are taking care of yourself is going to play a key role in your child’s journey. If you’d like to talk more about self care options, give me a call at 307-333-1273 or send me an email- firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to listen to you and brainstorm some ideas that fit you!
I became a mom for the first time to twins at the ripe age of 24. Despite all the time I spent reading parenting books I was highly unprepared for the cards I was dealt during the early years with my first two children.
Within their first 6 months of life together, my babies and I would go through a scary birth, a month in the NICU, complications from prematurity, and ultimately a pediatric cancer diagnosis for my daughter. Those months were terrifying, isolating, and incredibly hard!
Through all of those scary early moments, impossible decisions, and all the heartbreak, I was blessed with an advocate in the form of our Best Beginnings Nurse, Candice. This angel on earth had originally been assigned to help us when we transitioned home from the NICU with weight and oxygen checks. But overtime, she also became the person who became a lifeline through the darkness that came with Olivia’s brain cancer diagnosis at 4 months old.
Before Olivia’s diagnosis, my mother’s intuition had been screaming loudly that something was wrong with my little girl. Candice thought the same, and came alongside me to advocate for my little girl. Just like me, she was calling my pediatrician’s office multiple times a week to check in about the concerning symptoms we were noticing. Ultimately, her pushing helped us get Olivia to Denver sooner than we might have so we could receive her diagnosis and treatment could begin.
Throughout all of the struggles with the health of my children, Candice was always there. She helped us get connected to resources that could help us manage the weight of the bills that were coming in steadily. She provided some home nursing care for us so we could limit the times we had to travel to another town to see our pediatrician. And she also gave me a safe space where I could let my guard down and talk a little bit about how hard all of it really was.
And then when we reached the end of Olivia’s life, Candice once again stepped in and acted as our hospice nurse, which enabled us to have our final moments at home together. To say I am grateful for this incredible woman is the understatement of a lifetime!
As more time has passed since those final moments with my daughter, I have had more time to reflect on what Candice’s friendship and advocacy meant to me. She was a friend during my darkest hour, and an advocate for all of us when life was at its hardest. Her friendship and advocacy made life more bearable during an unbearable time.
I feel strongly that every family needs a “Candice” when their child is diagnosed with a medical condition. And the desire to provide that to other families in Wyoming is what led us to partner with The Orr’s Hope Foundation to create a Patient Advocacy Program to provide that kind of support to children and their families who are battling through complex or chronic medical conditions.
The Patient Advocacy Program has been designed to connect Wyoming families with the resources they need to help them throughout their child’s medical journey regardless of their child’s diagnosis, family income level, etc. This is a FREE program and you will never be charged to receive our services.
Our Patient Advocate, Katelin, can provide support and connections to resources that assist with travel expenses, childcare, school accommodations, medical support, food assistance, counseling, and anything else a family needs throughout their child’s illness! Our philosophy is to provide WHOLE FAMILY CARE because the diagnosis is difficult for every person in the family!
It is our sincere hope that through the Patient Advocacy Program we can make days brighter for children and their families who are battling complex medical conditions. If you would like to learn more or to connect with this program, please call 307-333-1273 or email email@example.com.
In a world where technology is king, we can find ourselves becoming less and less connected with others while the prevalence of sharing the highlight reel becomes the norm. I think we could all use a little reminder that giving back and giving your time for others is good for the soul.
Volunteering is no longer that thing you were required to do in High School to meet your graduation requirements. Now, volunteering is a life-long opportunity that creates a deeper connection with your community and helps people live a more satisfying life.
Here are 4 reasons why volunteering is good for your soul:
1. Create new connections:
2. Become inspired:
3. Allows you to put your unique skills to work:
4. Helps you make a difference in your community.
Do some research on organizations in your community whose mission is meaningful to you and reach out to them about upcoming volunteer opportunities. You won’t be disappointed by the aftermath of your volunteered time- a deeper sense of self satisfaction, pride from doing some good for others, and confidence knowing you’ve done something to benefit your community. All good things for the soul.
Children are amazing when it comes to bouncing back! It’s almost as if they are meant to be a little tougher in order to make it to adulthood. And one of the biggest assets they have is YOU.
No matter what a child is going through, he or she needs to know that they are not in it alone. The strategies that you - Mom, Dad, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and friends - teach them now can not only help them through their current situation, but long into adulthood. So what are some of the things that can help them succeed, especially if they are dealing with an illness?
1. “Open Door Policy”
Allow your child to share with you whenever, however, and as often as needed. This will not only validate his or her experience, thoughts and/or feelings by having an adult take it all seriously, it will enable them to learn how to seek out help from others and build trust. It is also an excellent opportunity to help them navigate how to advocate for themselves.
2. “An Apple a Day…”
Nutrition is a buzzword that can create angst or enthusiasm in someone’s mind. Don’t worry - this is not an “eat this, don’t eat that” sort of guide. But what we eat does impact how we’re able to function - for better or for worse. When your child is sick, be sure to check with your doctor about what types of foods may help them with medication or treatment side effects; what may react poorly; and especially what can help them get an upper hand in staying healthier and building up their body’s systems as they continue to grow. Guiding healthier eating habits now will help them as they gain more independence in making those choices when you’re not around.
3. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
Spring is here and summer is quickly on its heels. Staying active and playing can be difficult during the summer - sickness or no sickness - and sunshine can be such an inviting call to help us all have a little more fun. Help your child find some new interests that are within his or her physical ability to manage with that illness. It can be exploration walks with magnifying glasses, fizzy volcanoes (made OUTDOORS to save our floors), or on days that are a little more draining - taking in some fresh air on the back steps. Fun is always good medicine and children with broad interests can find things to brighten even the cloudiest days!
Kids can be so imaginative and with some good guidance, they can come up with some pretty spectacular ways to cope with their difficult situations. Be sure to check in with them to understand their daily needs and have a few ideas to help prime the pump!
Need more ideas to help your child “just keep swimming?” Reach out to us at the Olivia Caldwell Foundation to visit with Katelin, our Patient Advocate. We love watching kids overcome!