Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Sound familiar? At one time or another, we have all been in the middle of an unexpected or wearisome situation, be it the illness of a loved one or managing the complications of a far-away move. WhatFriendsDo.com is a site dedicated to helping an individual or family during those trying times.
With roots in Champaign-Urbana, the site was originally inspired by the love and support for Laura Crawley and her family as Laura faced the challenges of brain cancer. Through a "team approach" and lots of good cheer, not only were Laura and her family being nurtured, but also everyone on "Laura's Team" felt a wonderful sense of joy by being part of the team.
Sharing with others what people were doing in support of a friend gradually evolved into the website that exists today. For the past few years, WhatFriendsDo.com has helped friends and family just as much as the individual in need. The people involved want to know what is going on and what they can do to help. The site gives them multiple options and offers suggestions of little things they might not have thought of already. With its user-friendly design, the site is easy to use for even the most novice of Internet users.
It is worth mentioning that WhatFriendsDo.com is not only used for dire-need situations. When one of the site’s co-founders moved last year, she used it to coordinate friends who wanted to help with packing, watching kids, and cooking meals. WhatFriendsDo.com is also organizing a team to run in Race for the Cure in Indianapolis next month.
Smile Politely interviewed Aimee Kandrac, co-founder of WhatFriendsDo.com.
Name: Aimee Kandrac
Position with WhatFriendsDo.com: Co-Founder
Contact information: AimeeKandrac@WhatFriendsDo.com
What does Getting Things Done mean to you?
Making someone's life better, even if it's just in a small way. We often say, "we may not be able to change the outcome, but we hope to change the journey," and I think that sums it up pretty well for me.
How many staff and volunteers does WhatFriendsDo.com currently have?
Three staff; volunteers vary from month to month. Simply telling friends and loved ones about the site is a great way to "volunteer."
What was the inspiration for your website?
My sister's best friend, of 20 years, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 25, and my family and I did the things any close friend would do: shared information via e-mail about her progress, coordinated meals, but more than that, we found ways to make her days and her family's days happier. To read the whole story, go here.
What would you say is WhatFriendsDo.com’s greatest accomplishment to date?
Our site has had an impact on countless individuals and their circles of family and friends throughout the entire U.S. and Canada (we've had visitors from more than 125 countries, but our primary users are in the U.S. and Canada). Our concept is not anything new; friends and families have been helping each other through crisis forever, but what we have created is a way for someone's entire circle of friends and family to stay connected and be part of the journey. Our site enables the organization of all the helpful tasks, puts two-way communication all in one spot, and gives countless ideas for doing the little things that are often forgotten in today's world.
What are some of the site’s goals for the coming months?
Since the site is self-sufficient, our main emphasis is on spreading the word so we can help change the journey for more people. We plan to increase awareness on sites like Facebook so people will remember the WhatFriendsDo.com site when a need arises. We are also working toward finding investors or partners to enable us to take the site to the next level.
Tell us three things people do not know about WhatFriendsDo.com.
- A “mother-daughter” team runs the site and for the most part, we come up with all the crazy ideas ourselves!
- The site is free to use, but revenue is generated from purchases through our ads.
- We weren't sitting around trying to think of a business to start, or a way to fill our "free" time; the site evolved out of what we were doing for our friend, and we realized making this into a website could impact people around the world.
Are there other local or global not-for-profit organizations whose work you admire?
There are many that hold special places in my heart, but one of the first that comes to my mind is the Crisis Nursery. The staff and volunteers there step in to help families and children at some of the most vulnerable times in their lives, and really allow the children to be safe and loved when parents and caregivers are not able to.
What keeps you motivated while doing what you do?
What is interesting about a website like this is that you don't always know exactly how it is helping, but you hear bits and pieces to know that lives are impacted in a good way. Finding out that the website has helped change someone's journey really keeps me going.
What are your hopes and thoughts for community building and grassroots organizing in the future?
We will continue to participate in and sponsor events that support research for illnesses and life-changing events. While most of those organizations are working toward funds to find cures, our efforts are for the here and now, to make life better for those going through difficult times today. One of our long-term goals is to start a foundation that will give financial assistance to people so that they can help their friends in even greater ways.