Social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, & Friendster provide virtual communities where like-minded individuals can meet new friends with similar interests. Now, more and more charitable and non-profit organizations are tapping into the power of the Internet to provide caring and supportive networks for their members and constituents.
Like the big players in online social networking, these cause-centered communities allow users to create their own website, create a profile, upload photos, and collect friends within the network. They give users a place to meet others facing similar issues and provide various forms of interaction, such as chat, email, blogging, forums, and discussion groups. These communities bring people together at a difficult time and use technology to facilitate support for all involved, wherever they may be.
The beauty is that I can get online and meet others who know exactly what I'm going through. My family and friends are supportive, but they don't realize how fatigued and depressed this can make you, says Pat McEvoy, breast cancer patient. also feel like I owe it to your family to be strong. I don't have to be strong online.
Here are just a few community sites I have found:
Caring Bridge http://www.caringbridge.org
Caring Bridge provides a free community that helps people stay connected during life challenges. Over half the sites created are for sick or injured children and newborns. Families create a secure site where they can post journal entries and photographs for those who have been invited to their private network of supporters.
Cancer Survivors Network http://www.acscsn.org
Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Survivors Network is a free world wide community that provides a private, secure community for cancer patients and survivors. Users can create personal web pages and share their stories of hope and survival. Included are an Expressions Gallery with stories, quotes, poems, pictures, and songs and a Library where CSN members have posted some of their favorite resources.
National Breast Cancer Foundation http://www.mynbcf.org
The National Breast Cancer Foundation recently expanded their site to include a online community where breast cancer patients, survivors, and supporters can create their own website, keep journals, upload photos, participate in discussions, and meet others in similar situations. The free online community is open to anyone, but members can choose to keep their information private or allow only select friends to view their site.
Know of other online communities making a difference in the world? Tell me about them!