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Extra Hands for ALS exists to assist people with ALS and their families, raise public awareness of the disease, energize the ALS community, and introduce young adults to community service.
Through Extra Hands for ALS, high school and college students volunteer to help people with ALS and their families by doing chores and errands or just providing company for the homebound. Students also organize and participate in ALS public awareness events designed to teach their peers and communities about the disease.
Student volunteers complete a training program, and then are placed on a team with another volunteer and an adult mentor, usually an experienced adult volunteer or ALS survivor. In the home, students provide "friendly visitor" services such as helping with mail or email, housecleaning, getting groceries, doing yard work, reading aloud, or simply providing company to the patient. Once per semester, students participate in a public awareness event such as organizing an ALS Awareness Day at their school or running an information booth at a community fair.
An adult mentor works with each team to guide and coach the student volunteers and to serve as an additional source of aid for the ALS family. Mentors visit the families once each month, pitching in with whatever needs to be done and providing emotional support. They keep in frequent contact with everyone on the team to ensure all goes smoothly, and they work with the student volunteers on their public awareness initiatives. Mentors also function as ambassadors for Extra Hands into their own personal and professional networks.
Extra Hands for ALS is designed to benefit people with ALS, volunteers, and the ALS community at large. Through this program, young people have the opportunity to connect deeply with an issue and the people it affects, to become involved in their communities, and to explore possible career paths in healthcare and social services. ALS families directly benefit from the services of the volunteers. Additionally, the program is intended to expand the circle of people who are actively involved with ALS and thereby unite and invigorate the nationwide ALS community.
- Kristi LePenven
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