The Power of a Caregiver’s Promise


Early in December, I received an email request asking if Alex Sheen, the Founder of Because I Said I Would--a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to bettering humanity through promises made and kept--could fulfill his promise of volunteering at a nonprofit every week during 2014. Alex lives in Ohio but would be in Florida for a conference presentation and our nonprofit, the American Association of Caregiving Youth® (AACY), was selected as a potential volunteer opportunity.

Check out this inspiring TED talk Alex gave about his mission, back in 2013:

As is the case with many young adults, Alex was drawn to the cause of AACY because he was a witness and sometimes participant in the care of his father. He knew the challenges his mom had faced and he could only imagine what a youth caregiver goes through.

Especially during the holiday season, while the AACY team is in the midst of preparations for its annual youth caregiver and family Holiday Celebration, help is always welcomed!

Thanks to the landlord, Penn-Florida, AACY received empty office space in the building to help sort and prepare donated items including gifts for caregiving youth and their siblings. The task that we requested of Alex was to help move a vast array of donated "regiftable" items from our crowded office space to the empty office two floors above.

Regiftables are donated items that people have received and will most likely never use. They form the basis of a Holiday Shoppe where youth caregivers are able to "shop" and then wrap gifts for family members. One of the challenges facing Alex and the other volunteers was that during business hours only the building's service elevator could be used. The service elevator was down the hall from the AACY office and as far away from the empty space as possible!

The day arrived for Alex's volunteering. I received an email and then a phone call – his plane from Ohio to Ft. Lauderdale was delayed; he would be late. He kept his promise and arrived only 15 minutes behind schedule, suitcase in hand, wearing a simple black t-shirt with his company's name inscribed across the chest.

Thankfully, he appeared as fit as his internet picture portrayed. Needless to say, not all regiftables are light weight!

For the next couple of hours, Alex and some of the AACY team moved, moved and then moved some more of the regiftables to the empty space. He commented that as he traveled around the country and volunteered at now 50 nonprofits, there was a need among nearly all of the agencies for younger healthy and strong persons to assist with special projects. I readily agreed!

We completed our task, a selfie documented Alex's presence at AACY, and he was off to check in at the Boca Resort and Club for his conference responsibilities.

In spite of major travel delays, Alex Sheen kept his word.

Now the question for all family caregivers and especially caregiving youth: What promise will you make and keep during 2015? What can you do differently that is fulfilling and healthy for you?

Because I Said I Would offers Promise Cards for you to write your promise and to help you with your accountability to keep your promise.

The promise you make is your own. My hope is that you promise to build into your schedule a regular respite time. Maybe it is ten minutes every day, or maybe it is a couple of hours each week; it is your choice!

What is important is that you just do it…because you said you would!

Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD has a broad background in health care and a dedication to diminishing caregiving ramifications for family caregivers of all ages. Her passion led to the establishment of a nonprofit that evolved from supporting homebound adults and caregiving families to become the American Association for Caregiving Youth.

American Assoc. for Caregiving Youth

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