Volunteers Make the Difference!
One quarter of the entire population has asthma or allergies! That’s a lot of people seeking help as they navigate turbulent symptoms and allergen avoidance. Allergy & Asthma Network national headquarters are in Vienna, Virginia, but its local presence depends on the community volunteers we call Outreach Service Coordinators (OSCs).
OSCs are ambassadors sharing Allergy & Asthma Network resources all across the country. These are moms, dads, grandparents and friends just like you who want to educate their local communities about asthma and allergies and raise awareness of these chronic conditions.
Some distribute educational materials to schools, libraries and hospitals a few hours a week. Others devote more time, speaking to community groups about the basics of asthma, participating in local and statewide coalitions to improve asthma and allergy education, working with government officials to create laws supporting the rights of people with asthma and allergies or organizing a community Asthma Awareness Day. AANMA provides the training and resources they need to get started.
OSC Spotlight — “A Tale of Three Cities:
Asthma Support in Baltimore, Chicago and Richmond”
You know that feeling of relief when you call a toll-free number, bracing for an endless series of prompts from robotic voices — and you actually get through to a real person? A friendly human connection can make all the difference, whether you’re looking for information or solving a problem. That’s why when AANMA designed the community-based Great American Asthma Challenge project for the National Asthma Control Initiative (NACI) of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), we hand-picked six volunteer Outreach Service Coordinators (OSCs) to work one-on-one with families in three communities where asthma is especially prevalent: Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL and Richmond, VA. Read more and meet our team!
More OSC stories:
Vicki Modica of Clearwater, FL, wasn’t sure what she could do when she called our office wanting to volunteer, but she had a burning desire to tell the world that asthma and allergies are serious conditions — something she learned after her son died of an asthma attack.
“I thought living with asthma and allergies was a way of life. I never knew it could also be a way of death. It’s what I didn’t know that killed my son. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Vicki says.
Vicki told her story to lawmakers at Allergy & Asthma Network’s third annual Asthma Awareness Day on Capitol Hill in 2000. Her story inspired GlaxoSmithKline to support a national campaign, dubbed the Mikey Campaign, to eliminate preventable deaths and suffering due to asthma and allergies. More than 1 million booklets have been distributed telling Vicki’s story of loss and how it could have been prevented.
OSC Debra Mendelsohn lives in Southern California. She’s a full-time wife and mother while working part-time for an elected official. Her ability to organize events, write articles and conduct public relations activities are put to good use at Allergy & Asthma Network. “My kids have asthma and allergies. I’ve learned to keep a sense of humor rather than cave into the temptation to throw my hands up in despair,” she says. “Allergy & Asthma Network helped me get through the greatest time of need and now it’s time for me to give back and help others. Volunteering gives me the opportunity to pick and choose the things I can do so that I can do them well.”
The Network’s OSCs come from varied backgrounds and geographic locations, but they all have one thing in common: a desire to make a difference for families affected by allergies and asthma in their community.
Whatever your reasons for volunteering, Allergy & Asthma Network’s Outreach Service Coordinator program could be the breath of fresh air you’re looking for.
Want to learn more about the Outreach Service Coordinator program, volunteer or find an OSC in your community? Call 800.878.4403 for more information.