As the year comes to a close, I am taking a minute to reflect on food allergies and Washington FEAST. I have often felt that someone else, someone who doesn’t have food allergies to manage, should be doing the footwork that we find ourselves doing as parents and individuals who want to make the world a better place for food allergic individuals. We have so much (or at times so little!) on our plates just managing food allergies, as if making an allergen-free lunch every day of the school year, or baking way more cupcakes than any parent should have to make (although I have to confess to really enjoying baking cupcakes!), and constantly living with the fear that we have either not done enough to protect our kids (or ourselves) or that we are doing too much and either annoying others or creating a child who won’t be able to advocate for themselves ! And that is one reason why FEAST exists…..perspective!
I just wanted to share something that I have learned in the last several years. I need to be a part of change, be a part of the vision for a better future for our kids and food allergic adults. And participating in FEAST brings me joy, and it challenges every ounce of organizational competency that I can muster, but character building experiences are good for us, aren’t they? But I have also learned that, in addition to the food allergy work I do, I need work (or play) that gives me complete joy and satisfaction. In the last 3 years, I have pulled my guitar out of the closet, warmed up my vocal cords, immersed myself in old time and bluegrass music communities, and can now confidently say that I am an amateur old time/bluegrass/folk musician. I even played at Folklife twice last year, with my kids in a family band, and with some other adults I met at my bluegrass class. It was really FUN!
And you know what the best thing about it is, my kids are watching me have A LOT OF FUN doing something that doesn’t involve reading labels, negotiating with restaurant managers, or chaperoning field trips! And all this fun transcends and supersedes any food allergy angst that I might have from time to time, and it has redefined me – I am not only food allergy mom and support group leader, I am a musician as well. And the fun that I am having nurturing myself in this way does spill back into my food allergy world, making me a better leader and listener (or at least I hope so), and yes, it makes advocating for food allergy awareness more FUN. But it does take up quite a bit of my free time, so there are trade offs, but necessary ones.
I am going to list the 2010 FEAST events below. I hope that you have all had many food allergy successes in 2010 but also many happy memories of riding bikes, swimming in pools, climbing mountains, skiing, traveling, cooking with loved ones, playing sports, or maybe singing, dancing and playing music with others. Whatever brings you and yours joy. It is so important to figure that out and honor it – it IS as important as writing those emergency care plans and reading those cross-contamination labels.
In 2011, educate those coaches and friends, write those letters to congress, send that donation in, but also take time to re-connect with yourself (and maybe your spouse?) And really, for many (but not all) of us, it does come back around to our children; when they see us doing what makes us happy, despite obstacles, they will follow suit and grow up to live joy-filled lives and maybe they will find their joy in food allergies – thank you Kyle Dine! Thank goodness happiness is “safe” for everyone!
In parting, a word about giving. Washington FEAST would be nothing without your continued presence on the listserve where you can help others by sharing your own experiences and your support of FEAST events and activities. We don’t require fees for membership and plan to keep it that way, but your donations are tax deductible and will help FEAST as it grows. To make a donation using Pay Pal, go to the Washington FEAST website,http://www.wafeast.org/ and click on “How you can help” or send a check to the mailing address listed on the website and in my email signature.
The Washington FEAST Board is committed to our mission statement in 2011:
Washington FEAST Mission Statement
Washington FEAST (Food Allergy, Eczema, and Asthma Support Team) provides education and support to individuals and caregivers who are affected by life-threatening food allergies and who may also deal with related atopic disorders such as eczema and asthma. We provide outreach to the newly diagnosed and the larger community, building awareness of the severity of these allergies as well as how to prevent allergic reactions and how to respond if reactions occur. When needed, we advocate for change that will improve the lives of food-allergic individuals.
My final note is a personal thank you to the Washington FEAST Board of Directors and Officers who have worked behind the scenes for the last two years to establish FEAST as a small nonprofit with big visions for improving the lives of food allergic individuals in Washington State. Heartfelt thanks to Jana Robertson, VP, board member; Tamis Nordling, Secretary, board member; Sarah Beddow, Treasurer, board member; Tiesha Stiles, Assistant VP of Outreach, board member; Kerrie Schurr, board member, Ann Stapleton, board member, Andrea Evans, board member.
A safe and healthy 2011 to all! And please don’t be shy about sharing your visions for FEAST. We love to hear your ideas!
Year in Review: 2010
a. Speaker meetings – Dr. Robert Sidbury
b. Yahoo Group Listserve – 526 Members
c. Website – thank you Jana for great content and updates as well as Twitter, Facebook and Blog.
d. Brochure update – Thanks to Board Members Tamis Nordling (Secretary) for design and to Kerrie Schurr for editing. It looks great! (click here)
e. Love and Logic Workshop
f. FAAW Proclamation – Thanks to all who took time to send letters to the Governor.
g. Kyle Dine Tween/Teen Event/Pool social – lots of fun!
h. FAAN Walk booth – Kyle Dine Concert; we love Kyle!
i. Bastyr Fair – thanks Tiesha!
j. Puyallup Fair – again, thanks Tiesha and volunteers!
k. Conference – Wow! What a great day! Amazing speakers, great questions, relaxing location. Thanks to our tireless conference co-chair, Jana Robertson, and our sponsors and volunteers for making it a success! Thank you to Conference Sponsors Spokane FASN, Allerbling, Coconut Bliss, Dey the makers of EpiPen, Bastyr Center, Medic Alert, Navan Foods, Allergic Living Magazine, and Microsoft Employee Giving Programs!! And thanks to Ener-G Foods, Ian’s Natural Foods, Namaste Foods, Harry and Davids, PF Changs, Funky Monkey Snacks, Allergy Monkey for samples and door prizes! Thank you volunteers Lynn Anders and Erin Hayes.
l. Peanut-free Sections at Mariners and Rainiers – Thanks for all your hardwork Michael San Soucie!
m. Dave Niehaus donations – again, thank you Michael!
II. Board of Directors
a. Washington State Nonprofit Conference – attended by Kelly Morgan
b. Annual Meeting: Board Training by Jurassic Parliament
c. FAAN Leader’s Summit in Las Vegas – attended by Jana Robertson (VP) and Kelly Morgan.
a. Golf Tournament – raised $3000 to be matched by Microsoft Matching! Thanks to FEAST members who worked at the tournament board member Andrea Evans and her wonderful relatives, Anya and Evie, as well as Sarah Beddow (treasurer, board member) and Kelly Morgan – Thank you to these generous donors of door prizes for the golf tournament: Sturtevants (Bellevue), Martin and Barbara Snoey, The Northwest Store, The Container Store, Storables, Lucky Strike, Watson-Kennedy (The Commons). Mode Organic Salon (The Commons), ProGolf Bellevue, Little Rae’s Bakery, Experience Music Project and Trader Joes (Totem Lake). And to those who procured donations: Andrea Evans, Kelly Morgan, Jana Robertson, Stacey Weichbrodt.
IV. Next year?
a. School District Award for Implementation of Anaphylaxis Guidelines.
b. Restaurant Safety; Work with state and local public health agencies to get law passed to require all restaurants to post food allergy posters in appropriate languages.
c. More fairs? Evergreen? Whole Foods?
d. Website? We are looking at a major update in the website to make the great info there more accessible.
e. Social events/Awareness-raising events – Halloween Party
f. Special Diet resource fair in conjunction with other organizations.
g. Food allergy education events for the public
h. Google Group – stay tuned!
i. Northwest Food Allergy Camp?