Monday, March 18, 2013

My Favorite Six Year Old

I don't blog much about my nonprofit board work for either of the groups on which I serve as a director. The primary reason is that I care so deeply about the people and causes they represent that I don't want the potentially stupid things I might say to reflect on the organizations I cherish.

But today I wanted to post about the Diabetes Hands Foundation.

We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to connect, engage, and empower people touched by diabetes so that no one touched by diabetes has to feel alone. Our communities - TuDiabetes, EsTuDiabetes, & Diabetes Advocates and our program Big Blue Test seek to bring PWD and their families the kind of engagement and support that did not exist when I was diagnosed.

My husband and I discovered TuDiabetes five years ago, just after they celebrated their first year online and just as we were embarking on our first year of marriage. I owe TuDiabetes everything.

The answers, the empathy, the feeling that I was NO LONGER ALONE...I could "come out" about how challenging life with diabetes was. And my friends' suggestions there made my days less challenging.
My friends offline were making babies and living lives fundamentally different than mine. I was charting blood sugars and resenting my lot in life. But then I met the women posting in the Oh Baby group on TuDiabetes. They were my age, living my life, wanting to get pregnant.

And I met women like Kristin and Kelly R who told me that dosing my insulin 20 minutes before I ate might make a difference in my post-meal blood sugars, thereby reducing my A1c. I met women like Marie who taught me about rotating my infusion sites better to suffer less from scar tissue.

I learned things I didn't know about diabetes - and living with it had made me think I knew all I needed to know. I learned that it was an autoimmune disease (I was told as a kid that I probably got it from an injury). That perfect glycemic control was not possible and that I wasn't the only one with highs and lows. That there were other pumps out there than Medtronic. That there were basal insulins better than NPH. That there were more types of diabetes than just type 1 and 2 and that there is no type better or worse off.

I like to say that I'd still be me, diabetes or no. Hubster and I will argue that point until the world looks level.

But I would not be the person with diabetes that I AM were it not for the Diabetes Hands Foundation and the initial vision of Manny Hernandez and Andreina Davila.

Through TuDiabetes, I learned about the Diabetes Online Commmunity. I started a blog. I joined Twitter. I saw a tweet one day about a new group called Diabetes Advocates, and I joined that, too. Through that growing program, I hope to change the world for people with diabetes by connecting with other activated members of my community.

I now serve on the Board of Directors for the Diabetes Hands Foundation. I receive no compensation. I pay for my own travel. I give of my time generously, serving on committees, drafting documents, participating in conference calls, flying around the country for meetings. And beyond that, my husband and I donate hard money to the organization beyond what I am about to ask you to do.

Nonprofits have overhead and the rest of the world seems to think we shouldn't. But we do. We have staff to pay who implement our programs, harness their creative energy into marketing materials to get our message out to health care providers, devote time and resources to things like our video chats and the Big Blue Test app development. As Dan Pallotta, nonprofit fundraising expert says, "We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people. Interesting that we don't have a visceral reaction to the notion that people would make a lot of money NOT helping other people."

Nobody at the DHF makes very much money. Their energy and drive are an inspiration to me on a daily basis. As a board member, I am one of a group of 12-15 people responsible for the oversight of our overhead. I believe we are responsible with our finances, meager with our budget, and ambitious in our program goals.

But during this annual spring campaign, as I watch my precious TuD blow out those six candles, I know he is just wishing we could help more people.

Your donation can help us make that wish come true. Will you help us? Six dollars? Sixty dollars? Six hundred dollars?


  1. Thank you for all that you do, Melissa. It makes a big difference to many people.

  2. I couldn't have said it better myself! I admire all you do for TuD/DHF and all that TuD/DHF gives to the Diabetes community.

  3. My reasons are very like yours. My discovery of TuD came at about the same time, too. The only difference between you and me is that my favorite six-year-old is the son who brought me to TuD in the first place, who celebrates his sixth birthday in about a month. But TuD ranks a close second. :)

  4. Just when I didn't think I could be even more proud to call you my friend. You really are my hero. I'll take a hard look at my budget & see how much I can give. And I'll give as much as I can. :)

  5. I joined 5 years ago as well, after wandering in the diabetes wilderness for 40 years. I was overcome with the friendly welcome I received the first day, and non-judgmental, caring support so many offered me. I am very proud now to be a TuDiabetes volunteer administrator. It's changed my life really, I'm so grateful for the community, and the dedication and professionalism of the staff and the other volunteers. Thanks Mel, for all you do, and keep on rotating wisely.

  6. oh my u put it very well melissa!!!! ty