Work at It with All Your Heart

Contributing Writer: Jill Thompson, Inheritance of Hope Family Legacy Director

When someone you know is going through a difficult time, it is often hard to know what to do. Unfortunately, that uncertainty often causes people to do nothing for fear of doing something wrong. That can create a sense of isolation for hurting families when they most need to be lifted up. The truth is that sometimes these families don’t even know what they need because they are so overwhelmed.

I want to share some acts of service that the families we serve have been very grateful to receive. Here are tactical suggestions on how you can serve a hurting family whom you know:

Ways to Help, Acts of Service
  • Make a meal
    • This gift can be most effective through the use of a front door or back door cooler. To give the family privacy and prevent disturbance it might be beneficial to purchase a cooler to leave at the home of the family so you and others can leave meals at predetermined times. A text to a caregiver can alert the family that a meal is ready in the cooler. Online sites like Meal Train or Take Them a Meal can be helpful to set up a schedule where people can sign up for specific days.
  • Laundry Fairy
    • We all know that laundry stacks up very quickly on a good week. But if a family is going through a difficult time, laundry might have been backing up for a while, and they might need special help to dig out of that hole, literally. If you are close enough with the family to offer this type of help, you might suggest a system where they can leave the dirty laundry for you to pick up on a specific morning and then deliver back clean and folded that evening. If there are many family members this could happen several times each week.
  • Childcare
    • If the family has young children, it can be difficult to keep up with the demands of childcare, carpooling, activities, and school schedules. If you have a child that is in the same activities and/or school, it makes sense to offer this type of assistance to a family that is hurting. Be sensitive to a family’s desire to navigate this schedule as needed. There are times when they might crave and need their normal structure, and the hurting parents might really want to care for their children. At other times they might not be physically or emotionally able to provide this care. It will require your availability, willingness, and sensitivity. When you do help with the children, take it a step further by texting voice memos or photos to the parents so they still feel connected to their children.
  • Lawn Maintenance
    • Depending on the location and season, there are many opportunities to serve a hurting family through lawn care; raking and collecting leaves in the fall, plowing and shoveling snow in the winter, watering and mowing grass in the summer.
  • House Maintenance
    • If the family has a need and you are skilled in that area, it can be a great service to offer that skill. Some examples include cleaning the gutters, repairs, plumbing, painting, adapting a home for wheelchair use or medical equipment.
  • Transportation
    • If the family is battling an illness and a member needs many treatments it could be very helpful to offer transportation to and from their appointments. This can be especially helpful if they are experiencing side effects or are on medications that prevent them from driving themselves. Sometimes they might also enjoy company during their appointments, but this is also an area to be sensitive in case they would like to be alone or enjoy some rest and quiet.