6 Ways You Can Give Back When You're Chronically Ill
When I was 12 years old, I joined a social justice club at school. We raised awareness and money for several issues, including violence against women, war and poverty. Since then, I have always been committed to making the world a better place.
However, over the past year, I have become ill and unable to do the kind of work that I love. My illness prevents me from volunteering outside of the home. Growing increasingly frustrated, I gave some thought into how I can continue my passion of community volunteerism, because I care.
1. Write a letter to you elected official. Are you angry about an issue? Write a letter to your elected officials. Look up their address online. Be sure to be specific about what action you want them to do and by a specific date. Also ask for a written response by a specific date to ensure that you are responded to.
2. Volunteer for a telephone tree. A telephone tree is a group of people who call each other to check in. Folks involved tend to be ill, housebound or elderly and it often is their only human interaction. Maybe you will even benefit too!
3. Organize a clothing drive for a local homeless shelter. Connect with a local shelter and ask if they could use a sock drive or a clothing drive. Use your social media contacts to have people drop off items they no longer use. (Gently used items only, please!) Other ideas: blankets for animal shelters or toys for children.
4. Donate money. From $5 to $500, often every penny counts for non-profit agencies. In some instances, they can stretch your donation to serve the most people possible, as in the case of food banks. For some of us spoonies, donating money is a challenge. But can you organize a bottle drive?
5. Find a pen pal. Check out some international organizations or a specific disease support group that can connect you with others looking for friendship. A good old-fashioned pen pal (we are talking writing letters on paper!) is good for the soul and can often have a huge impact on those facing isolation.
6. Educate yourself! Sign up for newsletters from non-government agencies who do advocacy work to learn about the issues that mean the most to you.
Sometimes in illness, life can be isolating and frustrating. There are days when I am neck deep in my chronic illness and I cannot see the forest through the trees. I find that it is especially on these days, that I need to look outside of myself the most. It is on these days that I go back to my 12-year-old self and take action, however small, to help others. It gives me strength. I care.
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