A Call for Help

Submitted by Leigh Peterson, Upper Midwest Regional Development Director

From the Summer 2005 issue of Hopes & Dreams, newsletter of the Illinois Chapter, Huntington's Disease Society of America.

With the extraordinary pace of our lives these days, volunteering to take on additional responsibilities can seem like the last thing on earth one would want to do. And yet, what wouldn’t you do to help out those you know who are affected by Huntington’s disease?

Most of us are caught in the middle of this quandary…we want to help but feel that we don’t have the time, skills or resources available to be of real service. For those who struggle with this, take heart. There are a multitude of options that require very little effort or time, yet make a big difference in raising money towards a cure. Here are some simple ways to make a difference:

  1. E-mail your friends every once in a while about an event that might interest them. With the financial burdens of HD, families are often the last people who have the time or resources to help. But their friends, neighbors and work colleagues would love to have a reason to give – but often just don’t know how. They just need to be asked.
  2. Send HD Christmas Cards instead of store-bought ones. The Christmas Cards (available through the National HDSA office) are as reasonably priced as any on the market.
  3. Talk to your friends and neighbors about the disease whenever you can. Our biggest challenge is to educate the rest of the world on the horrors of this often closeted disease.
  4. Make items for event prizes or auction. Often the most valuable items at a silent auction are things made by hand.
  5. Ask for donation items from the businesses you patronize, or next time you are out shopping, buy an extra gift item. There is always an event coming up that can use these kinds of items.

If you are like most people, your time is limited but you want to support a few HD events throughout the year. There are many options to choose from. Choose the ones that are closest to your heart or appeal to an interest of yours. Often you can go one step further when considering your support of a particular event. Here are a few easy suggestions:

  1. Ask your neighbors and friends for small donations for upcoming events.
  2. Spread the word about events. Send an email broadcast to your friends and associates, telling them about the upcoming event, letting them know you support it and that you hope they will support it as well by a donation or attendance.
  3. Challenge your co-workers to match a donation you make. Hang a poster in the break room. See if you can insert a payroll stuffer about the event.

Finally, if you do find that you have some extra time or have the desire to get more deeply involved, following are some outstanding ways to direct your efforts:

  1. Serve on the local Chapter Board: The local chapter boards are made up completely of volunteers. Most board members spend a few hours a month on board business, making decisions that affect the HD community locally in regards to social work delivery, support groups, legislative advocacy and fundraising efforts.
  2. Serve on an Event Committee: Special event committees often involve a short-term commitment (4-6 months) with meetings once a month and a few hours a month of additional work. This kind of involvement is often very rewarding as the results of your work are immediately apparent at the events.
  3. Start a new Event: Our grass roots fundraising efforts are the cornerstone of HDSA. Often the most successful events are held in small communities where there is an affected family. Events such as bowl-a-thons, hoop-a-thons, golf tournaments, garage sales and auction dinners are consistently well received and the local chapter and/or Regional Office can help with many of the details. New ideas are always welcome too. If it can raise money, we are willing to hear about it.

If this were a perfect world, there would already be a cure for HD and we wouldn’t have to raise money. But until a cure is found, our fight to raise money and awareness will never end. And our appeals to you, our HD friends and family, will continue but please know that we understand the limits of everyone’s time and resources. We’d rather have a bunch of people doing a few things than a few people doing a bunch of things. That situation only leads to volunteer burn-out. Instead, we hope everyone who reads this newsletter will consider picking and choosing a few areas to support as life allows. With that kind of participation, our efforts truly will make a big different in the lives of those who struggle with this disease.

For information on getting involved in any of the above ways, contact your local Chapter or the Upper Midwest Regional Office (1-800-865-4342 or hdsapeterson@mn.rr.com).

Created and maintained by Renette Davis. Send comments to Renette by clicking here.

Created: July 24, 2005
Last updated: Nov. 13, 2010