Fall is a busy time of year with back to school, new sports starting up and the fast approaching holidays. With so much on our schedules it’s easy to forget that this is the start of the season for giving back.
Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving or Christmas to do your one day of volunteering/giving back, consider starting sooner. Not only will you feel good about doing something important for your community or favorite charity but you can involve your family and friends which develops a deeper relationship in the process.
In a world that seems a little out of whack right now, one thing that can keep us all grounded is to do something (small or big) to give back and teach empathy to our kids.
Here are a couple ideas to start your own fundraiser this fall to support your favorite charity:
Host a Chili cookoff
Remember to get as creative as you want and recruit your friends, family and social network to help you so you don’t get so overwhelmed. Also, it’s a good idea to check in with the organization you plan to fundraise for to see if they can help you plan and if they have logos, marketing materials and fundraising software for you to use.
Happy Giving Back season!
In talking with parents of kids who have a chronic illness or medically complex condition or even a premature birth, I have yet to hear the words, “Oh, yeah, we totally expected this.” No matter where we are in life, there’s always that bit of shock that “this is happening to me.” Whether you have worked hard your whole life or not, when drastic changes come that we didn’t expect it is a hard pill to swallow.
In general we here in Wyoming pride ourselves on our independence and ability to take care of our own. When that diagnosis comes or you suddenly find yourself on a life flight out of state, we still want to be able to take care of everything that our child needs. And sometimes we simply can’t. So then what? We may have to use that four letter word - HELP.
Before I jump into a few ways to find help covering some of the bills that are adding up in your times of distress, let me first say that asking for help when in need is a sign of strength. A friend of mine and partner at the Orr’s Hope Foundation - Shannon Orr - uses the phrase “a hand up, not a hand out” and I think she’s really onto something. If you are struggling under financial burdens, a hand up is what you need. So I applaud you from the beginning of this blog for considering asking for help to get a hand up to keep moving forward. For your kid(s). For you.
Check and Re-check with Your Insurance - have your provider or a social worker help you get all of the information you need about your child’s medical history and needs to be ready to take on the daunting task of calling your insurance company. And don’t quit calling. Some nurses or social workers can even help make those calls to advocate on your behalf. It doesn’t mean they will always be able to cover everything you need, but you may find some things that, with a little persistence, open up for you. And every little bit helps.
What if you don’t have insurance? These same social workers can help you navigate through the Marketplace to find something suitable for your family, including CHIP if there is a need to have your child covered for some things before you’re able to get back on insurance. There is also Medicaid that your child might be approved to receive. There are options! Don’t give up!
Problem Solve with Your Provider - is there similar medication for a fraction of the price? Have you heard about the medication assistance programs like NeedyMeds that can offer discounts on certain medications? Oftentimes, we need to travel for our child’s care. Does your out of state provider partner with any outreach clinics, like the one we have here at the Olivia Caldwell Foundation with Children’s Hospital Colorado? If possible, maybe these outreach clinics can help with doctor visit costs simply by having to travel a shorter distance and miss less work.
Wyoming-solid Foundations and Organizations - there are so many wonderful foundations, organizations, state programs, churches and individuals who are willing to offer a hand up to support you while you care for your child. Not sure what’s in your area? Not sure what you would qualify for? Not even sure how if you found both of those answers how to apply or connect to that entity? I’m here to help.
The Patient Advocacy Program is all about connecting families with a child who has a chronic illness or medically complex condition to the supports that are all across our state! I can help connect you to these groups.
For assistance with any of these pieces or something unrelated to finances, please contact me at 307.333.1273 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be so happy to help you find your hand up and cheer you on as you keep moving forward in caring for your family!
It is officially September, which means so much more to me these days than it ever used to. September for me is no longer just about the beginning of the school year and the changing seasons. September is now all about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is a cause that has become so dear to me since my only daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer at just 4 months old in July 2012.
Childhood cancer never got a second thought from me before it showed up in my family. I saw the pictures of the smiling, bald, beautiful children on the St. Jude’s commercials and didn’t really understand what an awful disease it is.
This picture here was taken just days before Olivia died at 20 months and 3 days old. With each day the tumor grew larger and made her head and face swell. She could no longer see. She slept all the time. She had no strength left. She was utterly and completely miserable. It is nearly impossible to explain the anguish I felt at that time. Seeing my child die was the worst experience of my entire life.
Childhood cancer is not pretty. These kids fight hard battles that should never, ever be a part of a child’s life. They spend the majority of their time getting chemo, radiation, sitting in hospital rooms, and watching life go by from inside the glass of the hospital building. They see countless doctors, nurses and specialists. They get MRIs, CT scans, and go under anesthesia regularly. They take more medications than most of us have ever seen outside of a pharmacy.
Childhood cancer is a horrible disease that desperately needs a cure. I know the pictures of the reality of what it does are hard to see, but please don't turn away. Childhood cancer doesn’t discriminate. No one ever thinks it will be their child, their niece, their grandson. But I can promise you there’s not a single family affected by childhood cancer that thought it would ever happen to them.
You can do something. You can help give these children the future they deserve. You can be the change. Consider getting involved during this Childhood Cancer Awareness Month! We currently have a Miles For Gold Campaign running with our partners at Stella Strong. Join us as we move our bodies to raise funding and awareness for pediatric cancer research! Learn more and sign up today by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.
About a year ago my husband and I went through the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University and it radically changed the way we see our finances. The concepts are simple, and I won’t go into too much detail here, but the basics are to pay off debt, secure a 3-6 month emergency fund, invest/save for retirement, save for your childrens’ college fund, pay off your house, build wealth & give like no other.
While it would seem like you should follow these steps in order, there actually is quite a bit of overlap. If you’re just starting out with budgeting, steps 1 and 2 are extremely important- you need to get out of debt and save up enough money in an emergency fund to support yourself and family for 3-6 months. There are tons of budgeting apps or programs you can use but FPU suggests the Every Dollar app and honestly, it has been super helpful for my family.
Only 1 in 3 Americans has a written budget so it’s actually no surprise when you see staggering stats like these:
Once you have secured yourself by getting out of debt (credit cards, car loans, student debt) and saving up an emergency fund, this is where you can start to intermix the next steps. Your budget can start to change as you free up more money on a monthly basis to start investing in the future.
I remember being in tears at one point during FPU because they were sharing stories of families who had followed all of the steps and were able to give tremendously because they set themselves up financially to do so. People were paying off their kid’s mortgages, donating massive amounts to their favorite charities and doing so without hesitation.
The biggest “aha” moment for us was when creating our budget based on the steps, we weren’t budgeting any money for monthly giving. We aren’t at the point financially (yet) to be able to donate tons of money but we were able to allocate a portion of our monthly budget to charitable giving simply by adding a Giving category to our budget. Now without having to bat an eye, we know a set amount of our income is going to our favorite charities/organizations. When we want to tithe at church, help a friend after a medical emergency, donate to our favorite nonprofit’s fundraiser we can do so without breaking the bank.
Now, if you’re thinking this isn’t a reality for you because you don’t make enough money, I challenge you to change your mindset. Budgets can work for any size of income and giving can come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to donate hundreds of dollars a month to make an impact. Even a simple $15 monthly donation can help make a huge difference for your favorite nonprofit.
Lots of nonprofits have adopted a monthly giving program that makes your donation as simple as signing up for Netflix. On a monthly basis, a specified amount is donated from your account without you having to click a button or mail in a check. I encourage you to look into this option for your favorite organization. Maybe writing a $300 check doesn’t work in your budget but I’d wager you could probably find $25 in your monthly budget to give.
Whether you’re at the beginning stages of budgeting or you are financially secure, I hope you see the potential you can have in this world if you allow your budget to work for the good of yourself and others.
To learn more about how your monthly donation with the Olivia Caldwell Foundation's Circle Of Hope monthly giving program can massively impact the future of children battling cancer and other serious diseases please check out our website.