Iowans who are fighting ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, can get some help for themselves and their family members through an effort being launched by the ALS Association’s Iowa Chapter.
Spokeswoman Sarah Loghrysays the Volunteer Family Assistance Program pairs volunteers from all over the state with families affected by ALS — and more volunteers are needed.
“We need people who would be willing to do yard work, people who would be willing to cook, do grocery shopping, clean houses, walk dogs, water plants,” Loghry says, “anything anyone is willing to help out with, we are looking for volunteers.” Those with ALS generally live only two to five years after diagnosis. It’s a progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement. ALS robs you of your ability to walk, to talk, to eat, and ultimately to breathe.
“Being a caregiver is a fulltime job,” Loghry says. “You have to eventually do everything for this person and it really drains the energy out of anyone who is taking care of someone with ALS. Volunteers come in and they can basically help out even in the smallest ways, just to give those caregivers and family members a little break.” Some volunteers have lost a friend or family member to the disease and they see participation in the program as a way of honoring that person they’ve lost.
“We also have a lot of people who are retired who are just looking to help out in the community and they contact us to get connected with our volunteer program,” Loghry says. “Anyone who’s looking to volunteer, or has free time in the mornings or in the evenings, anyone who wants to volunteer can.” Each volunteer will go through an interview, reference and background check before working with a family in their area.
To learn more, visit: www.alsaiowa.org