I try to meet each day with hopefulness and gratitude. Sometimes I must frontload the coffeepot the night before to encourage me to rise earlier than I might like. A simple comfort I indulge in is a pair of long thick red, white, and blue stars and stripes socks I store by the bed to cross the cold floor to the kitchen. I get up, put those socks on and see how I might give more to the world than I take from it.
In the nine months since becoming CEO of Caring Voice Coalition, Inc. (CVC), I have seen considerable resilience, durable empathy, and most incredibly, calm—from both patients as well as staff. People on both ends of the phone seem to share the quality of wanting to help others.
Patients’ stories, down to the details of awful choices some must make to get through to another day, are agonizingly raw. Despair is palpable. But so is a resoluteness borne by forced endurance. People still need help. The demand far exceeds the supply, a yawning gap that threatens to pull many people within.
We often talk about people in the aggregate, helping X number of patients with these diseases or securing disability assistance for Y number of people. But in these considerations, each unit of measurement, is an actual person.
Each individual we serve is dealing with the competing priorities of normal life—helping their kids adjust to a new school, guiding their own parents through the challenges of aging, or living on a fixed income themselves—addressing these daily economic anxieties are usually trying enough for even the strongest and healthiest among us. Sometimes there is the spirit-crushing reality that you’re unable to pay each bill that comes over the transom. To then shoulder the extra weight (a slab of concrete?) of health challenges with their associated jaw-dropping price tags might feel like more than a person or family can handle.
As one client recently told us:
I didn’t realize before I was diagnosed that someone in this country, in this day and age, could be put in this situation. I had no clue that just an average person with an average income living an average life could suddenly have everything turned around on them to where they’re facing such an enormous uphill battle, both health wise and financially. It’s shocking. It’s really shocking.
I come to work every day because I am 100 percent positive that until we find a system-wide solution to this problem, we are capable of supporting those that are suffering on an individual basis. At CVC, our mission is to find answers for each individual who has or could have relied on us for support. After all, in America, we have an ethos, a sense of community, of public good, to find solutions and to give a hand up to others.
Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” To see how I should answer that question I get up each morning, fill my “Keep Calm and Call Jack Bauer” coffee mug and tackle these issues with the certainty that we will find the answers, soon, getting people the help they need.
—Greg Smiley, President and CEO, Caring Voice Coalition