Donation happens in the hospital, but starts in the community.
Gift of Hope Volunteers
Everyone is busy in today’s society. Long commutes to work, career demands, family responsibilities and home maintenance leave only a few free hours. Deciding how to spend those precious few extra hours deserves some thought. If you were able to save the life of a young mother struggling with heart disease, provide a burn victim with life-saving tissue or give a kidney to a teen who was failing fast, would it be worth your time? There is a way to be a part of these and many other life-changing efforts. The first step is to add your name to the organ donor registry and the second step is to share your reasons for becoming a donor by volunteering for Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network, the federally designed not-for-profit agency that coordinates organ and tissue donation in northern Illinois and northwest Indiana.
Organ and tissue donation may take place in a hospital but it begins in the community when someone takes the time to become a donor. The motivation to become a donor varies widely but it is often a volunteer who helped facilitate the decision. Gift of Hope has an extensive volunteer ambassador program through which donor family members, transplant recipients and donation advocates can share their experiences and answer questions about the donation process.
There are nine different ambassador options including ambassadors to cities, donor families, currency exchanges, media outlets, social media, hospitals, funeral directors, school and signature events. Volunteers are encouraged to pick the area or areas where they feel the most connected.
Being ready to share the message
Every volunteer is given training so they are prepared to effectively represent Gift of Hope. Ambassadors are also given materials and opportunities to help spread the message of organ and tissue donation. For example, donor family ambassadors are invited to attend meaningful memory workshops to work with families in honoring their lost loved ones.
However, volunteers also rely on their own personal stories to inspire others to become donors. Gift of Hope realizes that making the personal decision to become a donor often comes from a personal invitation from someone who truly believes in organ and tissue donation. The invitation may come from an organ and tissue donation recipient or simply someone who has a friend whose life was changed by a donation. Even if you do not have personal experience with a donor, there are numerous success stories that can be shared. Gift of Hope values their ambassadors and strives to support them in as many ways as possible.
There are more than 113,000 people who have no other options for life other than hope. They hope that donors can be found that matches their needs in time. A new name is added to the list every ten minutes and 22 people die without receiving a transplant every day. Gift of Hope takes care of trying to find the right person but unfortunately there is not always a match. Volunteering to help others see how they can offer hope by becoming an organ and tissue donor is a noble endeavor.
To learn more about volunteering for Gift of Hope and to fill out an application, visit www.giftofhope.org. The few hours you spend volunteering may provide years of life for an organ recipient or improve the life of a tissue recipient.