This year, I celebrated a special Thanksgiving dinner in Hickory, NC, with my extended family, on the Sunday prior to the holiday. Although we always have lots of laughs because my family is constantly playing jokes on each other and/or making jokes (I could tell stories for days!), the room was a little quieter (and more somber) this year because we were missing a critical member of our family. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my aunt, Pam, passed away from ovarian cancer early in November of this year after a three-year battle. Pink was her favorite color, so we released a set of pink balloons on Sunday in honor of her that day.
Pam Lowman June 24, 1957- November 1, 2014
Later in the week, my family (mom, dad, husband, daughter, sister, and brother-in-law) met at Hilton Head Island, SC, to spend a relaxing long weekend together. We had a lot of fun riding bikes around the island, walking, shopping, eating out at new restaurants, and just enjoying each other’s company. It was this down time that allowed me time to reflect on the year of 2014—which is rapidly coming to an end! Although I have faced some pretty steep challenges this year, I know that I am still very blessed and have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for my beautiful daughter and supportive husband (who have to put up with me on a daily basis!), as well as the rest of my family. I am thankful for my church family and my friends from my church small group (that has been meeting for almost ten years now).
Of course, I am thankful for the vision that God put into my heart over seven years ago for an organization dedicated to women with diabetes, DiabetesSisters. Being able to see so many women with diabetes obtaining the support, answers, and education they need through this organization is such an honor. I am so grateful for the many DiabetesSisters’ volunteers who dedicate their time, energy, and passion for helping others by leading PODS Meetups (support groups) every month in cities throughout the US and the contributors who dedicate their time each month to write informative blogs and articles on our website to help other women living with diabetes. And….DiabetesSisters would not be where it is today without the staff (Anna Norton and Joanna Davis) that keeps everything running like a well-oiled machine. But, most importantly, DiabetesSisters would not exist at all if it were not for the more than 11,000 members—fans, followers, supporters, and true believers who understand our mission and support the goals we are trying to accomplish in order to improve the health and quality of life of women with and at risk of diabetes. It is YOU (our members) who we think of day in and day out when we are making decisions about the organization and its programs and services. Our membership continues to grow, and for that I am very thankful! The number of our corporate sponsors/funders also continues to increase, despite cutbacks in many companies. We also signed official partnership agreements with two very important groups this year- The Black Women’s Health Imperative and The Society for Women’s Health Research! You can expect to see some exciting new projects in place with them in 2015! What’s even crazier when I sit back and think about it- is the fact that we pulled off two Conferences in two cities we had never held conferences in before on opposite coasts—with ONLY two staff members (me and Anna!) Granted, it took every ounce of energy we had left to pull all of this off, but it’s certainly something to be proud of! And finally, in the midst of it all, my very first book, A Woman's Guide to Diabetes: A Path to Wellness, co-authored with Natalie Strand, was published by the American Diabetes Association.
Indeed, I feel blessed and am very thankful for the work I am able to do each and every day for women with diabetes. The Chair of our Board of Directors (who you should definitely meet if you haven’t already!), Diana Karczmarczyk, has a saying on the bottom of all of her emails that sums it up best: "To love what you do and feel that it matters - how could anything be more fun?" -- Katherine Graham. An inspiring message, isn’t it?
I urge you to take time to reflect on what you are thankful for as 2014 comes to an end. If DiabetesSisters has added to your life in any way over the last seven years, I respectfully ask that you consider either becoming a part of our Sister Strength Monthly Giving Program or make a one-time donation to the organization. “Individual donations” is an area where DiabetesSisters has not seen a lot of growth over the past seven years and that’s mainly because we rarely ask for money from our members. When we do, it is a subsidized rate to attend our Conferences. However, in order for the organization to maintain itself and grow, it is essential that our funders see financial support also coming from those who benefit from our programs and services. Again, I am thankful for everything and everyone who has contributed their time and energy to DiabetesSisters. I am simply asking that you consider supporting us in an additional way this year.
As the sun sets on 2014 and a new dawn approaches in 2015, I extend my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to YOU. Happy Holidays!