Candy bar for a quick fix. Check. Loose dollar bills for the vending machine. Check. Blood sugar kit to know everything’s alright. Check. That list (usually with many other items) has crossed my mind countless times. My mother has had Type 1 diabetes since she was five years old. When I was five years old, I started to learn that list and the signs of hypoglycemia. In my family, I was always the best person to help her and ensure glucose stability. Now that I am away at college, my sister is starting to take over my role and share the responsibility with my stepfather. My mother’s chronic illness has been a family affair.
My mother may have a chronic illness, but she has never let it stop her from doing everything a person without a chronic illness does. That’s what I love about my mother. She does not succumb to her illness, she puts in every effort to control it and lead a “normal” life. Since she was little she played sports, did well in school and now works full time; as a parent she was always at all my soccer games, my sister’s orchestra concerts, back-to-school nights, and now even move-in days for college! Through her resilience and effort, I found my own strength: the compassion to take care of her on worst days, the determination to do my best, and the love to help
Enter my freshman year. My second semester of freshman year, I decided to take the Honors Colloquium course titled “The Human Experience of Chronic Illness.” I was excited to learn new material that was so different from my major (public policy). I loved learning about various chronic illnesses, not only the facts, but hearing how real people and their families were affected. Type 1 diabetes was one of the topics we covered and I immersed myself in the subject as much as possible! Now I am more informed about the illness, and the many other illnesses we discussed. Nevertheless, the best part of the class was being involved with Lori’s Hands. I was fortunate enough to have the founder of Lori’s Hands, Sarah LaFave, as an instructor in that class. Through our required visits for class, I fell in love and I knew I had to be a part of this organization. Soon after, I was an official volunteer and through what I think was a stroke of good luck, the executive board decided to bring me
onboard as Vice President!
Now, at just the beginning of my sophomore year I have the chance to become even more involved with this organization! I know my work, time, dedication will be well-spent on our amazing clients and student volunteers. Helping the Newark community and seeing the direct impact is a great feeling. I am excited for this school year and to meet the new clients, the new club members and get started on all the wonderful ideas we have for Lori’s Hands!
Written by: Nicole Rodriguez-Hernandez
Nicole is currently a sophomore honors student with a Public Policy major and minors in Organizational and Community Leadership and Urban Education. She hopes to be involved and work in the non-profit sector, specifically with organizations working in education (especially for disadvantaged youths) in the future.