Taylor's Personal Page
*Post-Program Update At Bottom of Page*
On February 2 2003, my life was changed forever - that was the day I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes has been a large part of my life, and although managing it daily takes a lot of self-discipline, I have never let it hold me back. My journey with diabetes has been long and arduous, but I have also had the luxury of an incredibly supportive family, loving community and the resources and technologies that help to keep me healthy. While I feel extremely grateful to have all the opportunities that I do, some individuals are not nearly as fortunate. The maintenance of diabetes is expensive and time-consuming. Diabetes is a full time job with no days off.
Service has always been a large part of my life, and my family has always stressed advocacy as a way to give back to the diabetes community that has given me so much. This summer, I will embark on a life-changing experience in the Dominican Republic (DR) as a volunteer for AYUDA.
AYUDA is a non-profit volunteer organization that empowers youth to serve as agents of change in diabetes communities around the world. AYUDA is dedicated to supporting local diabetes communities in their development and implementation of sustainable and global diabetes programs. AYUDA’s innovative peer learning model uses international volunteers as catalysts for empowering local youth living with diabetes to live happy and healthy lives.
Together with AYUDA's in-country partner organization, Aprendiendo a Vivir (AAV - "learning to live") and my fellow volunteers, we will organize diabetes education initiatives for young people and adults living with diabetes in five different provinces around the country. AYUDA endeavors to remain a grassroots volunteer organization in a unique way: by asking its volunteers to participate in fundraising for their programs. In fact, without fundraising by volunteers like me, AYUDA’s in-country work would not be possible.
For more information about AYUDA and its important work, please visit their website. (www.ayudainc.net )
I will be traveling to the Dominican Republic in June, but my journey begins today! I need to reach my fundraising goal by June 2nd. Please support me in this important goal by making a contribution. A tax-deductible donation online makes supporting AYUDA quick and easy. You can also send your contribution to the address listed below.
To make a donation online: click the orange "SUPPORT ME" button.
To mail in a donation: make all checks payable to: AYUDA Inc. and please put my name in the Memo field. Mail to: AYUDA Inc, 1700 N Moore St, Suite 2000, Arlington VA 22209.
Your tax-deductible gift makes a difference. Your support will ensure that local diabetes programs will continue to thrive and that young people in these communities will have access to education and tools that will help them live happier, healthier lives with diabetes. Whatever you can give will help - it all adds up! I greatly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.
Thanks so much, Taylor DeGroff
¡Juntos Somos Más Fuertes! Together We Are Stronger!
Post- Program Update
Hello Everyone! As of this past Saturday (June 30th) my two weeks in the Dominican Republic came to an end. I’m incredibly proud of the work that the team did. We were able to reach over 150 people living with diabetes and provide a critical component of healthcare: education. Diabetes is complex. Many people living with diabetes simply don’t know why their blood sugars are high or the proper way to bring their blood sugars down. While access to resources - pills and insulin - is a challenge for many people, we were focused on the people who did have resources, but just didn’t have the knowledge that is necessary to manage such a complicated disease. In other words, without education, medication is virtually useless.
Our program is En El Camino because we brought diabetes education to the local communities. In total, we visited five different locations all around the south side of the island. An average day would go as follows: we would get on the bus at about 7 in the morning and travel from Santo Domingo to another town.
Once we arrived, we would register the participants and check everyone’s blood sugar. Typically, we had about 20-40 attendees. This was my favorite part of the outreach because I got to personally meet every person who came to our sessions. Admittedly, it was very difficult for me to see individuals walking in with blood sugars of 300 and 400 (extremely above healthy values). As someone who lives with diabetes, seeing first hand the disparity in care was very difficult. This brings me to the main purpose of AYUDA: education. Although many of the patients did have access to medication, they did not know how to properly use their resources. AYUDA provides the vital education component of healthcare. In other words, without education, medication is virtually useless. Our program was divided into three groups: nutrition, exercise and medication. Each group would give about an hour long presentation on their given topic. The day would then finish with one-on-one conversations with the participants where we would answer more specific questions they had about their health or lifestyle.
Going to these outreaches, I learned that AYUDA is truly filling a need in the community. The education that we are providing is an essential service that works to change the lives of hundreds of people. Diabetes is an incredibly complex disease that goes way beyond just remembering to take a pill. AYUDA is dedicated to providing the education that helps people juggle blood glucose monitoring, medication, nutrition, and exercise.
In addition to the amazing outreach work, I had the opportunity see many different parts of the Dominican Republic and to work side by side with a local youth organization -- Apriendo a Vivir. Apriendo a Vivir does similar diabetes work year round. It was truly a privilege to learn about a country by living and working side by side with the community.
Thank you so much for your support of this program, and I cannot wait to see the impact AYUDA will continue to make in the future.
My Personal Web Log
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