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Volunteering
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Volunteering

Since my diagnosis, I'm trying to focus on getting my life back to normal as much as possible.  Before my big 2011 relapse I was a full-time volunteer (up to 90 hrs a week) and I loved it.  In spite of the fact that I not only look pretty normal now, I'm also feeling pretty normal, I've since been to a bunch of volunteer agencies (Red Cross, regional volunteer agencies, etc) and everyone wants a report from a doctor that I have no known health issues.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a kind of volunteer work that might be ok with me having MS?

Laura
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Not to be stating the obvious, but I just filled out the application and forms for volunteer work here with the MS Society in Ireland. I too felt the need to do something (not currently working) and thought, 'well, who can better understand the fluctuating nature of the commitment I'm able to make!'.

I have a lot of background with computer and admin work, so even if it's stuffing envelopes, I'm game. Still waiting to hear back from them, but they seem to be open to volunteers at all levels of ability/mobility/availability.
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You offer a good idea. I've been thinking about that one myself. Right now, though, I have a lot of physical therapy to do, and am committed to several gym sessions a week to try to improve things generally. But in a few months I'll probably be up to volunteering again.

I've done a lot of that through the years, but have never been asked to be certified by a doctor beforehand. Wow, I don't think that's a common practice in the US. Although this country has always been very big on volunteerism, the need is most often greater than the available supply, so agencies can rarely be that choosy. Perhaps for insurance purposes, I don't know.

But anyway, MSers wanting to volunteer need to find a placement not requiring adherence to a rigid schedule. Agencies naturally don't want to have to scramble at the last minute for a replacement. That's why I had to give up my time with a local hospice--there were days I just couldn't get out and about, and they were dependent on me.

Stuffing envelopes and other routine work may not be very stimulating, but if often can be done in a fairly flexible timeframe. Tuesday afternoon one week might work just as well as Wednesday another week. While I'd rather do something that takes better advantage of the experience and skills I've accrued, at least it's something, and it all needs to get done.

So ultimately I'm likely to go back to the hospice to help with office work, or do the same for the local MS society.

Dogmum, thanks for bringing this up.

ess
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Existing groups or companies that deal with, or teach living with chronic disease or limitations always interest me.  I enjoy sharing coping mechanisms, perhaps that is something you may find fulfilling as well if you have anything like that in your area.  

This volunteer service can also be given to the young or the elderly. The aging have lived in this world longer than us, but some may not have had to live with something chronic until they aged.

And, the young will benefit from others experiences and practical daily living advice.

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immisceo, that's a great idea.  The MS Society is the only place that I've considered that I haven't gone yet.  I don't know why I'm hesitating; it's probably the perfect place.  The doc that heads it up was my old doctor who kept referring me to psych.  So to come in now with an American diagnosis of MS... I want to tread lightly there.  But you're right that they're probably the best ones to understand what we deal with as far as commitment ups and downs and I think I'm going to sign up for that.  Just working on what might be the best way.

Ess, I'd love stuffing envelopes.  My last volunteer job was with animals and I did worse. ;) Even gave a donkey an IV once.  

Good idea, sllowe...

I'm going to keep on working on this and see what I come up with.  Thanks for the suggestions.  :)
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I volunteer for the MS Society.


Alex
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I'm having the same dilemma of wanting to volunteer some of my time but needing something that's compatible with the daily fluctuations of my symptoms.  I've considered the MS Society but am reluctant for the mere fact that it's on the other side of the city which feels like a huge hassle to me.  Mind you, Ive got nothing but time on my hands so I guess that's no excuse.  I'd be happy to do some basic office work, I'm slower now with my clumsy, painful hands but could still contribute.  I'm not that interested in putting my professional skills to work (background in social work and HR) but I find that non-profit agencies tend to want to capitalize on those kind of skills.  And other than participating in a walk myself, I have zero interest in fundraising, which is another big need of volunteers of non-profits, so, not sure yet if I'll pursue that path.  

My first love is cooking and baking.  I heard about a local agency comprised of volunteers who donate healthy cooking and baking to be provided to low income mothers of young children who are going through some kind of difficulty in life, eg: adjusting to a new baby, going through a divorce, etc.  and aren't able to do much cooking themselves.  Volunteers may also provide other services to help their clients, eg: occasional, free babysitting if mom has to go to court or a job interview or needs alone time to bond with baby but has toddlers too; or, do light housekeeping or drive the to appts, etc.  I'm strongly considering getting involved at least on the cooking front as I love to cook, can work it into my schedule when my hands are not at their worst, and there's no minimum amount of donations or time required. From my professional experience,  I know that services like this can make a real difference in the lives of young moms and their kids and actually help to mitigate involvement of other agencies in their lives such as child protection.  

I think rather than look at volunteer work that is compatible with MS in a generic sense, look for something that's compatible with your specific abilities and limitations combined with what you really enjoy doing.
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OMG, that is so awesome!  And I have to admit, I'm a little bit jealous.  I love to cook as well and would love to find something like you just described.  I'm now wondering if something like it exists here.  I'm going to find out....

I, too, know that this kind of service can really make a difference.  RIght before I turned 16 my mom was taken to the ER with what turned out to be a brain tumor.  They did emergency surgery and while she was in the hospital and then for about the first 3 months of her recovery at home, a different family in our church brought us dinner every night.  Different people took me to the grocery store every week so I could buy what else our family needed and they did other various things to help out.  It made the difference, I can definitely say!

If you decide to do that, I'd love to hear how it goes, ok?  :)    
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