National Volunteer Week

Celebrate National Volunteer Week April 15-21, 2018!

Welcome to National Volunteer Week!  Established in 1974, National Volunteer Week began as a way to set aside a time to volunteer for a cause and to recognize the amazing people who dedicate their time and service year-round.

Volunteers are an essential part of any organization and it is no different for MSAA.  Our selfless volunteers who have partnered with MSAA over the years help us spread the word, make our programs possible, serve as ambassadors for our online forum and improve lives today for the entire MS community.

What does service mean to you?  Why do you volunteer?  Let us know how you are celebrating National Volunteer Week by sharing your story with us on social media using the hashtag #MSAAVolunteer.

Do you have any interest in volunteering with MSAA?  Visit our Volunteer page for more information, or contact us at volunteer@mymsaa.org.

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Let’s Hear It for the Volunteers!

This week is officially marked as National Volunteer Week. Volunteers are so necessary for many organizations including ours. For this post we wanted to introduce you to some of our amazing volunteers here at MSAA.

Charles Backlin known around our office as Chuck has been volunteering with MSAA for 11 years in our home office.  After retiring from the US Military Chuck was in search of something close to home that he could get involved with when he came across MSAA.  Chuck has been volunteering since he was young, taking part in Boy Scouts and the Ground Observer Core in Junior High “We needed eyes on the ground in area’s where we were watching for potential threats from Russia. We would go out and observe the area and report places that were suspect to be evaluated by a fighter system.” From this early exposure to being part of a volunteer group Chuck was able to experience not only being a part of a group and working toward a common goal but also serving others. When asked what he would say to potential volunteers he stated “They need to get out and do for other people. It’s important.”

Barbara Gershenoff volunteers with our lending library helping clients get resources and connected to writings focused on living with MS, spurred on by having a friend who was diagnosed with MS years prior.  She also takes part in special events such as our annual Golf Tournament . For the past one and a half years Barb has come in to work with the team at MSAA to continue to connect with clients across the US and help raise funds so that we can continue to provide our programs and services to clients. Barb is a retired school teacher from New York who when she and her family moved to NJ was looking for a worthwhile organization to get connected with, googled local volunteer opportunities and came across MSAA. When I asked Barb what she likes most about volunteering she said without hesitation “I love the people here [at MSAA]. I’ve gotten to know them and this place [MSAA] feels like home. And there is of course the fact that I get to help people who really need help.”

Nada Baydoun has volunteered with our MSAA Social Media Street Squad since the summer of 2015. “I signed up to volunteer with MSAA because when I researched, I loved what I saw on the website. I was also encouraged to volunteer with MSAA due to the excellent reviews and comments on Facebook from people suffering from MS.” As part of our Street Squad team, Nada and hundreds of other volunteers help MSAA spread the word about new developments and available resources to the MS Community thru platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. “I like that I feel that I am spreading awareness about MS. Many of my Facebook friends have messaged me privately asking me about my MSAA posts and wanting to learn more about MS. I also like that the posts [from mymsaa.org] offer practical and helpful information to those suffering from MS.”

Each of our volunteers and all of the amazing volunteers who have partnered with us at MSAA over the years are a vital part of what we are able to do for the entire MS Community. They help us to spread the word and make our programs possible; they are our ambassadors to communities and some of our greatest supporters. Thank You So Much to everyone who currently does or has ever volunteered with MSAA. You are not only part of our MSAA family but we also couldn’t do what we do without you.  A big Thank You also to Chuck, Barb and Nada who let me get to know them a little better while writing this post, you all are the best!

If you have any interest in volunteering with MSAA, check out our Volunteer page on our website or contact us at volunteer@mymsaa.org.

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Stories to Inspire

Find Out What “Moves” Joe Revello

Joe Revello tests out his new Alinker, with its inventor Barbara Alink

Joe Revello tests out his new Alinker, with its inventor Barbara Alink

“It’s all about helping people,” noted MSAA volunteer Joe Revello of Plainfield, NJ. “Whether it’s raising funds, helping at an event or just having that conversation to build awareness, any effort in the fight against MS is critically important.”

Joe, who was diagnosed with MS in 1995, has been an active volunteer in the MS community for more than a decade. Recently, with the help of his sister-in-law, Joe organized a very successful school walk for MSAA and has now joined our newly formed volunteer task force aimed at expanding local, grass-roots fundraising efforts to support our signature programs and services.

But beyond his fundraising successes, Joe’s commitment to helping people with MS continues to grow as he now embarks on a much different and very personal crusade. In fact, you can say it literally “moves” him toward a new level of advocacy.

“Walking has been my biggest challenge over the years,” said Joe. “I can’t walk unassisted, my balance is horrible, and I experience pain in my hands and wrists when using crutches. Using a walker has me bent over, tightens my back and doesn’t allow me to walk as far as I want to. I also tried using a scooter but it wasn’t for me as I wasn’t moving and I didn’t want my physical condition to decline.”

Never shying away from a challenge, Joe knew there had to be a better option to help meet his mobility needs, so he turned to … the Internet – of course! “Believe it or not I typed in the words: ‘Futuristic Walking Devices’ and up came this product called the Alinker. I was immediately impressed by its design and function. The more I read about it, the more I knew this could be something that could change my life.”

Produced in the Netherlands, the Alinker is described as a walking-bike that allows users to sit upright so they are eye-level with their environment. Although excited by his discovery, Joe’s enthusiasm was soon tempered when he spoke to the inventor, Barbara Alink, and learned the product was not yet in production and only available as a prototype. However, Joe and his wife Denise didn’t want this possible opportunity to pass them by and ventured off to the Netherlands to meet Barbara and test out the prototype.

“I was on the Alinker that day for four hours and walked two miles,” noted Joe. “I was not fatigued. I moved at my own pace, independently and could stay connected with my companion. I could have never done that with a walker or crutches.”

Unfortunately, Joe and his wife had to leave the Netherlands without the Alinker. A short time later, Joe obtained his own prototype to use temporarily until the company, Alinker Inventions, could begin the manufacturing process. Through a grass-roots crowdfunding campaign in the Netherlands, the company was able to produce a limited number of Alinkers and Joe became the first United States citizen to own a finished walking bike, at a cost of $2,000 US. When hearing about the company’s plans to establish a similar fundraising campaign to help bring this mobility device to people in the United States, Joe immediately put on his MS advocacy hat and went to work.

“My goal is to make the entire MS community aware of this product,” said Joe. “Obviously everyone’s MS is different and people have their own, unique mobility needs. But I would like to see people who are mobility challenged like me have the same life changing experience as I have had with the use of the Alinker.”

“After training, I can walk using both legs more symmetrically on the Alinker and I have built up muscle where I hadn’t before when using other mobility devices. Plus people now call me the cool guy on the yellow bike!”

Editor’s Note: Please know MSAA does not recommend or endorse any particular product or service. This article is intended for general informational purposes only, and it does not constitute medical advice. For diagnosis and treatment options, you are urged to consult your physician.

 To learn more about this product, please visit http://www.thealinker.com/.

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Who’s in Your Social Network?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Summer. Rising temperatures have engulfed many parts of the country as we head into three months off for many schools and time marked by vacations, day trips and outings around town. One of the things often associated with summer are the get-togethers with friends and family, cookouts and time to connect. After the long chill of winter and rains of spring, being social and connecting with others can breathe new life into our daily routines. But being social can also be difficult to manage and navigate. Where to start and what to do to put yourself out there are some questions that you may ask as you venture into being social. Here are some helpful things to keep in mind this time of year as you look for ways to put yourself out there.

  • Set a goal: This summer I want to make one new interaction a week. Goals are important, they keep us accountable and give us something to aspire to. Make sure your goals are reasonable, obtainable and of interest to you.
  • Reach out to volunteer: Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, discover a new interest and also give back to the community around you. There are sites such as Volunteer Match as well as your local community center than can help you get started.
  • Plan something you’ve wanted to do: Maybe you’ve been saying you want to have people over or get together with a friend who you haven’t seen in a while. Now’s the time to reach out and put something in the books.discuss
  • Give the internet a try: Now I know the internet is pretty much part of all our lives and one of the reasons is it’s ability to provide us with new and fun ways to interact. Join a new online community such as MeetUp.com where you will be able to find local opportunities to join others interested in board games, cooking classes, paint nights and any number of activities.
  • Give yourself a break: Doing new things and getting out there to meet new people or even planning things with those you know can be a lot, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Give yourself a break if your goal is to make one new interaction this summer or you have to reschedule that dinner with friends. What’s important is that you are seeking the engagement and building new connections.

Staying social is great to our overall well-being. It gives us outlets, keeps us connected and provides other individuals that we can reach out to in times of need. This summer add some points of contact to your social network.

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A Day On, Not a Day Off.

Is not this, then, a century worth living in – a day worth serving? And though toil, hard, heavy toil, be the price of life, shall we not, young men and women, gladly work and sacrifice and serve…?” – W.E.B. Dubois, 1898

On Monday, January 18th our nation will once again pause to remember the great Dr. Martin Luther King, a leader and activist most noted for his role in advancing the civil rights movement. This day gives us the opportunity to reflect on his legacy of service and explore what service means to us in this current age.

MLK Day 2016MLK Day is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service, and celebrated as “a day on, not a day off.” Each year, citizens all across the country honor Dr. King’s memory by participating in acts of service that benefit their community. This Monday, January 18th, we encourage you to help improve lives today for the multiple sclerosis community as your act of service.

We would love to hear how you are spending your Monday. Let us know what fun activities you’ll be doing either here or on our Facebook page.

Need some ideas of how you can be of service to the MS community?

1. Donate your time by creating a fundraising event to benefit MSAA.
2. Participate in Swim for MS.
3. Make a purchase from a company that supports charitable causes.
4. Make a monetary contribution.
5. Sign up for our Street Squad program and begin spreading the word about MSAA.
6. Perform random acts of kindness for someone in your community.

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Monday is a Day of Service

by Kimberly Goodrich, CFRE, Senior Director of Development

In 1994, Congress declared the federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King to be a day of service. Each year, citizens all across the country honor Dr. King’s memory by participating in acts of service that benefit their community. This Monday, January 19th, we encourage you to help improve lives today for the multiple sclerosis community as your act of service.

MLK 2015

Start volunteering today!

Need some ideas to help the MS community?

1. Donate your time by creating a fundraising event to benefit MSAA.
2. Participate in Swim for MS.
3. Make a purchase from a company that supports charitable causes.
4. Make a monetary contribution.
5. Sign up for our Street Squad program and begin spreading the word about MSAA.
6. Perform random acts of kindness for someone in your community.

We would love to hear how you are spending your Monday. Let us know what fun activities you’ll be doing either here or on our Facebook page.

MLK Day infographic

*About Kimberly

I am the Senior Director of Development at MSAA and have worked in the nonprofit arena for over 15 years. I love reading, running, theatre and the Green Bay Packers. I volunteer with the Disabled American Veterans teaching outdoor sports like skiing and kayaking to injured veterans and find that I receive much more from them than I am able to give.

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What are your plans? Support the MS community this Monday

By Kimberly Goodrich, Senior Director of Development

Getting through the obligations of the Holiday season can be taxing. Sometimes it seemsMLK Day with logo
as if every waking moment is scheduled with items to do or places to be. As we ease into the New Year, it’s nice to take a day to slow down, breathe, and do something that feels good rather than simply crossing things off my To Do list.

Despite the busyness of the holidays, I like to take a little time around now to reflect on how grateful I am for the opportunity to be with family and friends. Current research asserts there are numerous health benefits related to gratitude. Taking time on a regular basis to list the things you are grateful for yields better sleep, improved health outcomes and higher overall satisfaction with life. And it’s easier than pushups!

This brings us to Monday.

mlkday200x200On Monday we will celebrate the spirit and generosity of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1994, Congress declared the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday as a day of service. Dr. King believed we all had a duty to serve others and that through our collective actions, social problems could be solved. Rather than taking the day off, we are encouraged to find ways, big or small, that we can give, benefitting our community and spreading gratitude.

 

What are your plans for this day of service?

Keep in mind that not all service requires a great deal of time or money. Kindness can fill a need as easily as dollars. There are many ways to volunteer or serve:
MLK Day infographic

I’m looking forward to Monday. Having made a list of things I’m grateful for, I hope to awaken feeling rested and positive. I will share those feelings by spending time volunteering for a disabled sports group I’ve been involved with for several years. Afterwards I plan to make a donation to a few groups that are important to me and relax with family. Now that’s a To Do list to be grateful for.

stress

 

 

 

 

 

*About Kimberly

I am the Senior Director of Development at MSAA and have worked in the nonprofit arena for over 15 years. I love reading, running, theatre and the Green Bay Packers. I volunteer with the Disabled American Veterans teaching outdoor sports like skiing and kayaking to injured veterans and find that I receive much more from them than I am able to give.

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Swim for MS News – October 2013

The October 2013 Winner is…
Congratulations, Auburn Swimming and Diving – BLUE TEAM 2013, for being the top Swim for MS fundraiser during the month of September!

Check out Auburn Swimming and Diving – BLUE TEAM’s page and support their Swim!

Thumbs up - Benefits of SwimmingBenefits of Swimming:

  • The ability to do more with less
  • Increased muscle tone & strength
  • Improved flexibility
  • A healthier heart
  • Controlled weight
  • Improved cholesterol
  • Lower risk of diabetes
  • Lower stress

Be a part of Swim for MS – please register today!

Swim for MS swimsuits from HARDCORESWIM

Swim for MS Swimsuit Partnership:
MSAA has partnered with HARDCORESWIM to provide exclusive Swim for MS swimsuits. Two different Swim for MS styles are available for men and women. Check out the Swim for MS page on their site and order your suit today!

Spread the Word:
Once you start your Swim for MS, don’t forget to post pictures of your Swim on social media and tag MSAA!

Facebook: facebook.com/MSassociation
Twitter: @MSassociation
Use hashtag #SwimForMS

In Other News:
Please visit our Swim for MS News archive on SwimForMS.org for more information on our CaféPress site, as well as our Swim for MS partners, Pura Vida and HARDCORESWIM.

If you have any questions, please contact us at swim@mymsaa.org.

Thank you for your support, and happy swimming!

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA)

#SwimForMS – use this hashtag when talking about Swim for MS on Twitter!

Tweet about your Swim for MS!

Swim for MS is supported by our National Sponsor, Genzyme Corporation; our Distribution Sponsors including SwimOutlet.com and Fitter Faster Tour; and our Swim for MS partner, HARDCORESWIM.

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Parting Thoughts…

The following is a post from Amanda Bednar, MSAA’s Manager of Community Relations, who will be sadly leaving us after 9 years of being a part of the MSAA family. We will miss her!

For the past nine and half years I have enjoyed being a part of the staff at MSAA as well as the larger multiple sclerosis (MS) community. When I first started here, I came aboard wanting to learn more about multiple sclerosis but more importantly, combine my skills as a communications professional and my desire to make a difference into a career. Looking back, I can certainly say that my career at MSAA has been all of that and more. I have come to have a profound respect not only for the MS community but for my colleagues and the work that is done to make sure MSAA’s mission continues. I am honored to have worked with so many kind and generous individuals.

The one thing I will miss the most are the emails and testimonials that I have been able to read from you, our clients. Every time I read a guest post in this blog or meet an individual at a program or speak with a client about their Stories to Inspire column in The Motivator, I am often left awestruck at the resiliency and determination of the MS community.

While I am leaving my day-to-day duties at MSAA, I will not be leaving the MS community. I plan on transitioning into a volunteer role, where I hope to still be able to continue supporting MSAA’s mission of improving lives today!

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Swim for MS News – July 2013

The July 2013 Winners are…
Missy Franklin Autographed Photo:
Congratulations Julia, for being the top Swim for MS fundraiser during the month of June!

Swimsuit Prize:
Congratulations Kara for winning a Swim for MS swimsuit! This suit was designed and made by HARDCORESWIM!

How do I Swim for MS?
Go the Distance – Individuals or teams set a challenge goal to swim a certain amount of laps, distance, or time during one day or over a set period of time.

Make a Splash – Participants turn fun pool activities into exciting fundraisers such as pool volleyball tournaments, cannonball jumping contests, and more!

How do I receive Community Service Credit?
If you or someone you know needs to fulfill community service hours – Swim for MS! Swim for MS is a “virtual volunteer opportunity” – this means that you contribute as much time as you can – when you can!

  • Register online at SwimForMS.org.
  • Set your challenge goal – Swim 100 laps in 10 hours and raise $150.
  • Ask your friends and family to support your cause.
  • Keep a log of hours swam and track your progress on your page.
  • Once completed, email swim@mymsaa.org to receive a confirmation letter of your hours!

Swim for MS Swimsuit Partnership
MSAA has partnered with HARDCORESWIM to provide exclusive Swim for MS swimsuits! HARDCORESWIM is based in Southern California and all items, from start to finish, are produced in the USA. Two different Swim for MS styles are available for men and women! Check out the Swim for MS page on their site and order your suit today!

In Other News
Please visit our Swim for MS News section on SwimForMS.org for more information on our CaféPress site, as well as our Swim for MS partners, Pura Vida and HARDCORESWIM.

If you have any questions, please contact us at swim@mymsaa.org.

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