February Volunteer of the Month:
Heather Yocum began volunteering with The ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter soon after her mother was diagnosed with ALS in December 2013. It was still months before the famous Ice Bucket Challenge brought global attention to the cause, so the only thing Heather knew about ALS at the time was that it was connected to baseball great Lou Gehrig.
It did not take long for Heather to dedicate herself to doing all that she could to help her mother and to raise money and awareness for ALS care and research. She believed that if her family only knew so little about ALS, then many other families were in the dark about both the symptoms of ALS and what services were available to them.
Heather quickly became involved in every way that she could, jumping at the opportunity to join other volunteers at events like the Walk to Defeat ALS, the Annual Celebration, and various fun events like the Philadelphia Phillies to Strike Out ALS.
Throughout her many hours of volunteering, Heather used the opportunity to listen and learn from the Chapter’s experienced team of nurses and social workers to better understand ALS. She learned that everyone’s experience with ALS is different and that the Chapter helps to anticipate the needs of patients and assist them with insurance and procuring medical devices. She also learned about the challenge of finding effective treatments for the disease and that a small portion of ALS cases are considered hereditary.
Volunteering at the Chapter helped Heather become a better caregiver and friend to her mom during her battle with ALS. Heather gained a greater understanding of what her mom would need and about the difficulties that caregivers go through so that she could assist those around her.
Since 2013, Heather has been a regular presence at Chapter events. She greets teams at the Walk to Defeat ALS, assists with raffles and registration at the Annual Celebration, and welcomes new faces at events with the Philadelphia Phillies. While participating in so many Chapter activities, Heather has learned that many people still do not fully understand the realities of ALS and what families go through every day, or the many services available through the Chapter that their generous donations support. That has inspired Heather to take yet another step to become a Community Ambassador with the Chapter so that she can raise awareness of all aspects of ALS and better help families across the Greater Philadelphia region.
Everyone at the Greater Philadelphia Chapter is grateful to Heather Yocum for her dedication to the ALS mission. She brings a positive attitude to every event, making attendees feel welcomed, and she does it all to honor her mom. Thank you, Heather, for using your time and energy to help all ALS families.