Through a professional colleague, I learned about a terrific workshop called Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions. The course, which originated at Stanford University, is now offered at no charge in locations all over North America.
At first I was interested in taking the course, but my colleague pointed out that, like her, I’m well-suited to become one of the course’s peer co-leaders. Everyone who leads the course either has personal experience living with a chronic condition (my colleague has muscular dystrophy, and her co-leader has multiple sclerosis) or is a caregiver for someone who does. My colleague gets enormous satisfaction from her stints co-leading this workshop. Turns out that an old friend with rheumatoid arthritis also teaches it, and has had a similarly positive experience.
So in March, I applied for and was accepted into the brief leader-training course. I’ve now completed that training, and at some point in the next few months, I expect to be assigned to co-lead my first group. This seems to be a perfect fit: it uses a skill set (leading groups) that’s a strength of mine, and it makes good use of all those years of struggling with Crohn’s disease.
I still plan to sign up for the next Volunteer Visitor training through the local Ostomy Association chapter, as well.Because neither of those commitments is likely to require more than sporadic/occasional involvement, I’m continuing to explore other volunteer work. I have neighbours who are involved in each of the following, and are encouraging me to consider joining them:
- assisting in the library for a mental-health facility
- accompanying residents of a local AIDS hospice on appointments and other outings (he once got to take a fellow shopping at IKEA!)
- providing community meals and free ESL tutoring at a local drop-in centre
- tutoring adults in literacy at the public library
- answering calls for a distress line
One of those organizations will probably turn out to have a volunteer position that both suits me and feels personally meaningful. Right now, I’m leaning toward choosing an activity that won’t involve teaching, just for variety. I loved my one-day stint with Habitat for Humanity last summer, so that’s another option.
I won’t mark this goal done until I’ve actually started at least one of these volunteer activities.