The scenario is terribly, horrendously familiar. Something has gone wrong. Someone is sick, or hurt, or grieving, or giving birth, and/or frankly terrified. The notifications go out, the way they do, in one form or another. Absent from school. Leave from work. Prayer request at church. Cancellation of social engagements. And then the offers of help come flooding in, if one is so blessed.
It’s wonderful when this happens. I am not (for once!) being sarcastic. Helping others, and yes, having the grace to accept that help when offered, is so important.
However the offers can be overwhelming, and it can be horribly hard to manage for the person actually struggling. Fortunately, in this day and age there are a variety of options. Someone with technological skills can set up a google doc with dates and share it out, or there are a variety of websites that offer scheduling services for everything from meals to lawn care. Here’s a few!
A free website. The process is very user-friendly and quite charming. Despite the “MealBaby” moniker, it can be used for illness, grief, anything, and the design of the page doesn’t push the new baby look at all. It can be set up by someone in need, or on someone’s behalf. One step in the process even offers gift cards for restaurants and groceries as well as an option to send a meal – letting even those far away participate in the provisioning.
Much the same as MealBaby, but without the potentially painful moniker. Unlike MealBaby, though, only one meal a day can be set up for free. And like MealBaby, it really is only for providing food, so it won’t help organize rides to doctor’s offices or any other needs.
Take Them A Meal
Another meal-scheduling service. Also free. This site provides the option of sending paper flowers or VISA gift cards. And quite nicely, it has a bunch of suggestions for how to offer help and recipes that transport well. I didn’t check it out beyond that, but the website brags that it helps coordinate over 1.3 million meals a year.
A more comprehensive setup than the other two options, with the caveat that it’s also a lot less user-friendly. A coordinator sets up the initial calendar, not the person in need of assistance; there’s a lot of data to be filled in, verification emails, account setup…. It also requires each individual step of the multi-step set-up process to be completed in fifteen minutes. So make sure you know what it is you/someone else needs before starting! You can specify a calendar for a deployment, shut-in, childbirth…. There’s a variety of needs that can be filled in, from meals to lawn care to doctor’s office rides. There’s even an option to only open up certain errands to trusted friends and other tasks to more general acquaintances (so giving your child a ride to soccer can only be taken by those designated). No one else except the coordinator has to sign up for the service: there is a calendar ID and security code to access the calendar, with different numbers for the coordinator, recipient, general helper, personal friend, etc. It will even handle periodic updates and photos. In other words, you can spend a LOT of time setting up the calendar (and it still won’t visually be as appealing as Mealbaby, but from my limited test-run, it seems to work).