Carb DM would not be the community that it is without the hard work and support of our volunteers. Carb DM’s Meet Our Volunteers blog post series introduces readers to our volunteers. It’s our small way of recognizing them and showing our appreciation! This month’s featured volunteer is Carb DM board member Heike Fischer.
Most of us know how Carb DM got its start: Tamar Sofer-Geri decided to organize a support group for T1D parents and caregivers shortly after her daughter Tia’s diagnosis. That initial support group became Coffee and Carbs. Carbs in the Park followed soon after, and the rest is history. But it takes more than one person to grow from a support group to an organization offering over 70 programs per year. Tamar turned to her friend Heike Fischer for help.
Heike’s son Alex had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age four in 2007,so she knew from experience how important it was to have a community to educate and support people with T1D. Tamar spoke with Heike about creating Carb DM with a more comprehensive program offering. Heike supported the idea one hundred percent, and helped Tamar set up Carb DM as an official nonprofit. She drew from her years of experience in corporate and finance law to set up and register Carb DM as a non-profit in 2011. As Tamar recalls, “I basically bought a guide to starting a nonprofit in California, and I asked her to register us as a nonprofit. That wasn’t her field but she was able to figure it out and find an accountant”. Heike became Carb DM’s first volunteer and first board member.
Six years later, Heike is president of the Carb DM board. She, her husband Jim, and their two sons continue to be active members of the Carb DM community. They volunteer at several Carb DM events and participate in many more. They also volunteer and fundraise for the Silicon Valley Chapter of JDRF, where Heike serves on the Board of Directors.
At Carb DM’s 6th anniversary celebration, Heike spoke of feeling lost after Alex’s diagnosis, finding the support she needed, and why she decided to start giving back. Here are excerpts from Heike’s speech:
I still remember the day in February 2007 when our family was coming home from the hospital, less than 24 hours after my then 4-year old son Alex had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We had a book from the hospital full of new terms that I had never heard before and instructions to pick up supplies at the pharmacy on the way home. While waiting in line to buy our very first vial of insulin, I tried to learn more about diabetes. I eagerly studied the article about dialysis and the ads for diabetes socks in a free magazine. Why had no one in the hospital mentioned these to us?
Over the next few days many more questions came up, from what items to take with us when leaving the house to how to help my son tolerate finger pokes and shots. There had to be other people like us who had gone through this before and knew what to do! And, I have to say, I also longed to meet other people living with T1D for reassurance that we would be ok. Immediately I started asking around among friends, at my son’s school, left a message at a diabetes organization. But it was a long and anxious time before we were finally connected with another family living with T1D and could start learning from them how to feel normal again.
Fast forward three years. I had met Tamar. When she asked me what I thought of the idea to start Carb DM to help families and individuals with type 1 connect, learn and thrive. I loved it and immediately promised to do everything I could to support her. With Carb DM, no newly diagnosed family would have to wonder where to turn anymore!
In the seven years since Carb DM started as a gathering of families, the organization has grown a lot. We have over 70 programs throughout the year. There is a Carb DM program for every age and stage of T1D. Carb DM is truly unique in the breadth and depth of programming that it offers. But Carb DM’s greatest strength is its members, and we value every one of them immensely. We are grateful to our members for making this community strong and vibrant. Thank you to everyone for their active support as it continues to evolve.