Adventures in Gluten (and Sugar) Freedom from a southern blogger chick!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

National Blog Action Day

A week ago, I made the commitment that I would join Blog Action Day on Oct. 15 on Poverty. And since the day I made the commitment, I have been trying to decide what to write.

Wikipedia defines poverty as:deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water.

Today, in this broad discussion of poverty, I have decided my blogs must be related. You see, I teach (and practice) public relations because I love it. I'm gluten free to live. What I love and how I live are intrinsically linked, I think.

So the question of the day: How are PR, Celiac Disease, and Poverty related. And what can I do to help?

In a sense, it's simple: Celiac disease can be costly disease because it covers one of life's necessities -- safe food and drink. And it can be a burden in so, so many ways.

I admit it, I'm spoiled rotten. I have two beautiful homes, a loving family, and more food than I should have. And since I became gluten free, I have spent more money than ever on specialized food stuff that make my life easy and comfy. I am blessed, I know it. And in this economy, when our investments and jobs are on the line...I feel the pinch every single day. My employer-provided insurance covered my tests for my diagnosis of Celiac disease, including the specialist.

But then, I don't live in poverty or need.

I wonder how is it for people who do live in need AND have Celiac disease and can't afford the food, or tests, or even the occasional treat. Do they even know they might have it? That may sound like a trifle to you, but it can be huge. Celiac disease could affect 1 in 133 people, and many people have who don't know it. And the ravages from the gluten ingestation on a person with Celiac disease can be deadly -- it destroys the small intestines, can cause lymphoma, can cause other auto-immune disorders.

Imagine having a child with Celiac disease and having to depend on food bank donations to survive. Often food bank food contains wheat and the other "poisons." Imagine being on a fixed income and having to make a home gluten-free and feed yourself food that automatically costs more. Imagine having to afford hospital tests for Celiac Disease -- painful tests, annoying tests -- and having a doctor say NO because you don't have insurance. Imagine not knowing where to turn for help.

No, in all my time posting/reading/writing about the gluten-free lifestyle, I have never encountered this topic anywhere. There's a lot of people suffering in silence. In need. In poverty.

My friend Cassandra of Delightfully Gluten Free is part of the North Texas GIG, and she is always collecting GF food for newly diagnosed families. I admire that about her--heck I admire her.

I know our wonderful Middle Georgia GIG is just getting off the ground, and we're struggling -- heck, the other officers are still paying for stuff out of their own pockets since we don't have a budget. But I know those ladies, and if someone came to them and said "I need GF food for my child and I can't afford it," they'd pull something together as fast as they can, with love and care. They would address the need.

Is there a chance there could be something I could do like that? I can't reach out to all of Georgia, but I can reach out to my Georgia. I can help someone who has a need, who is hungry, and who needs to be gluten free. Here, in silly ol MillyVegas.

If this makes one person need less, then I have made a difference. And that today is my pledge.

OK, I don't know exactly what I am going to DO yet. And I think I'm going to call on some of my crackerjack PR students (those who might want to help) to help me think how I can address this need. I can't build a house like Habitat for Humanity, but I can help someone restock a kitchen pantry. I can offer guidance through my resources. And most of all, I can be a friend. More and more people are finding out they, or their children, or their parents, have Celiac disease. I know how that feels.

So first, let me make a promise: Today, my blog was accepted into the BlogHer network, and I vow to use this forum and that network to continue to spread the word about Celiac disease and offer to help anyone I can who is in need and new to CD.

And I promise to try to do more. I have been greatly blessed. It is time for me to give back.

I promise this is my project for the next Calendar Year, and I will report back soon with details.

Much love, and I welcome your thoughts and suggestions!


P.S. Happy Birthday Daddy. I love you. You and Mama taught me to give back. Thank you for that.



Gabby The Gluten Free Guru said...

I really appreciated your comments. It is such a significant problem to consider. I have always thought how important it is to help those struggling with adapting to Celiac's, financially and emotionally. But I had not thought of being dependent on the food bank for gluten-free items. This will definitely take some thought and concern to figure out how to help. Thanks for giving me something important to think about.

Gluten free Kay said...

Hi Ginger,

Oprah had a show on happiness last season. It was to find out what kind of people were the happiest on an every day basis. Turns out it was not the richest, the most pampered or the healthiest. People who spent their lives aiding others were the happiest every day.

Now here's a concrete idea: The Indy Gluten Free Group (my mom calls it the gluten free club) has just started holding "beginners" meetings. At these special meetings they get TONS of information about how to live gluten free without making the same mistakes we all made at first. We all contributed info and stories about how we had poisoned ourselves early on.

Each newbie gets a buddy, a volunteer to help them clean out their pantry and revamp their kitchen. This would have been a HUGE help to me at first! I would have been grateful to have just a phone buddy to ask my stupid-sounding questions.

I think it's a great plan and an easy way to help out.

I am happy for your financial comfort - especially the Florida home! Celiac has been quite a drain on my budget, but at least I save money because I can't eat out anymore. Ha! There's always a silver lining!

A said...

Thank you for posting this blog. I discovered my gluten intolerance at 18 (now 27) and had to work out my college years adapting and acclimating to my health issues and food costs. I lost an incredible amount of weight at first, not being able to get a handle on my situation and now although still thin, I am much healthier. I still struggle with food costs and have had to alter much of my budget to accommodate simple pleasures. I truly believe that our nation's over processed food is to blame for this exacerbated allergy. I have celiac disease and have symptoms daily. I feel the best when I eat food that comes right out of my mother’s garden, she is celiac as well. We are foodies too and do most of our experimenting with food from her garden! We are a blessed family as well, our blessings are in love and time; not necessarily money. I am also a GA resident and love your genteel writing touch; it is so homey to me.

Julie, the mama said...

I don't know if I'll ever be gluten free, but I sure think the GF community is incredibly kind and giving.

As always, I am proud of you.

Karen said...

That is a very very good idea--donating gluten free food to someone in need! When I discovered that I am gluten intolerant, my daughter decided to go gluten free too, as she was having some of the same health issues as I was having.
She was living in Norfolk, VA at the time. I had to call the health food store in Norfolk and give them my credit card number over the phone as she did not have the money to buy her food.

I am originally from Georgia, and have an aunt and uncle in Milledgeville. I am adding your blog to my reader.

p.s. I found you because I was looking for a pineapple upside down cake recipe.