How CareCalendar has Saved One Family’s Life by Allowing Others to Help

CareCalendar is a donor supported ministry of the Bortel family. Dave Bortel developed the concept and wrote all of the custom programs that make the site work. His wife, Suzanne, and several of their older children help brainstorm new ideas and test new features as they are developed. They also help with customer support and Gift Shop order fulfillment whenever possible.

CareCalendar was created based on Dave’s experiences of coordinating meals and other care that family and friends offered after Suzanne had emergency surgery. She was very weak and was unable to care for herself and their large family for several weeks.

At the time, they had nine children living at home. The logistics of keeping their needs met AND being available for his wife were too much for Dave to handle on his own. He needed help!

“I called several family members and close friends on the phone, but repeatedly explaining the situation was very draining emotionally,” Dave recalled. “In order to let as many extended family and friends know in the easiest and quickest method, I decided to send an email message explaining things in as much detail as I knew. The responses started pouring in, many with offers to help.”

As a specific offer to help was made, Dave wrote it down. People would call or send an email message asking what type of help was needed and when. He quickly realized that he was spending quite a bit of time trying to coordinate all the offers to help care for his family. He also realized that he needed to come up with an easier way to communicate his family’s needs to a large group of people. “I compiled all of the offers and put it on a simple calendar on a web page (the original “help calendar”) along with a list of our most urgent needs,” remembers Dave. “As people offered to help, I could then direct them to the web page so they could see what was already being done. They would then call or send me an email message telling me how and when they could help.”

Though it was very plain, Dave received many positive comments on the “help calendar.” After Suzanne’s health improved, he decided to expand the concept even more by making it “self-serve” so people could sign up to help without needing to contact the coordinator.

Within a short time, he had a chance to test the new and improved, yet still very primitive, online help calendar concept. Suzanne’s 90-year-old grandmother needed around-the-clock care. Her primary caregivers were leaving on vacation and the rest of the family was to provide respite care for three weeks. They set up the list of daily needs, including detailed instructions about administering medications, Grammie’s daily routines, laundry instructions, etc. The system worked great, and many suggestions were made for enhancements.

Now, after literally thousands of hours of planning, coding, testing, fixing bugs, etc., “CareCalendar” is a reality.

Please help the Bortels make this system even better by sending your comments and suggestions to admin <at> CareCalendar <dot> org.

How can I help?

About Tom and Ann Gendich

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