Cancer sucks. Actually, any medical event does. But in the storm of hospital visits, doctor appointments and medical jargon, there is a site that helps one manage daily life and communicate with the community — CaringBridge.org. CaringBridge is a social network that helps families and loved ones connect during any type of health event.
A few years ago, my neighbor was fighting two types of blood cancer. Through the site, his wife was able to update friends, church members and concerned neighbors, even if it was to tell others there were no new updates. She was also able to get the help the family needed, whether it was dinner for their boys or getting one of the kids to a dental appointment because she was at the hospital. CaringBridge played an integral role in helping the family function in their time of need.
The amount of people who use CaringBridge is staggering. More than 408,000 personal sites and SupportPlanners have been created since the organization was founded in 1997. More than 500,000 people connect through CaringBridge every day. And more than 46 million people visited CaringBridge.org in 2012 alone, of which I was one. Were you?
The site offers families two main services:
- CaringBridge Sites (caringbridge.org): CaringBridge provides sites where people can post health updates. People are able to stay connected and leave supportive messages during any health event, big or small, acute or long-term.
- SupportPlanner (supportplanner.caringbridge.org): The CaringBridge SupportPlanner helps family and friends coordinate care and organize tasks, such as bringing a meal, taking care of pets and other needs.
CaringBridge, a nonprofit organization, doesn’t cost a single penny to the people who use it. The site offers protected online spaces with multiple privacy settings. They also do not sell a person’s personal data and have no online advertising. So how on earth do they fund themselves? Through donations.
It’s easy for you to make a difference for a family that needs support at a time when their world may feel out of control. Some options include:
- Make a Tribute Donation: Give a Tribute donation to CaringBridge to honor your family member or friend. Simply visit their site and click ‘Donate now’.
- Give At Work: Many employers offer workplace giving programs like matching gifts or payroll deduction.
- Raise funds through the site’s Event Central: Participate in an existing athletic event, organize your own unique event, commemorate a special day or highlight health milestone with a personal fundraising page to benefit CaringBridge through Event Central.
- Support the site while you search and shop online: Use the GoodSearch.com search engine and select CaringBridge as the charity you’d like to support. CaringBridge receives donations from your searches. You can also use the GoodShop.com link and a portion of your purchases go to CaringBridge at no additional cost to you.
If you or someone you know is facing a medical event, I also highly encourage you to jump online and join CaringBridge. It has made a significant difference in so many families lives, including several families I know personally. If you’re hesitant to join, here is a sneak peak at what the site offers. (Click on the images to make them larger.) Again, it’s completely free to users.
Founder Sona Mehrin explains the inspiration for CaringBridge was born from grief in her new book Hope Conquers All, which will be available in August 2013. She reveals the death of a newborn was the catalyst for the birth of her organization, which enables people to share information online during any kind of health event, thus streamlining the efforts of communicating to multiple family members and friends.
Hope Conquers All is an inspirational collection of stories from CaringBridge users. With health challenges ranging from children with cancer to adults requiring life-saving transplants and victims of horrible accidents, the first-person accounts reflect the importance of CaringBridge in their personal journeys. In addition, the hope that the service provides in the form of the support of friends and loved ones is a unifying message, one that Mehring says has deepened her own faith. “Not a day goes by that I don’t feel blessed to know that the work I do brings comfort, love and strength to others in their hour of need. I have always enjoyed working with people and technology, but the opportunity to work at something that so powerfully and positively impacts people’s lives takes me from ‘enjoyment’ to ‘joyous.’”
To purchase the book, click here.
EVOLVE: HAVE YOU EVER USED CARINGBRIDGE? PLEASE TELL OTHERS HOW IT HELPED.