Saturday, May 5, 2007

CaringBridge and Linking Families through Virtual Community

If you have ever been affected by a tragic event or encountered a trial in your life that sometimes seems insurmountable, then you know the feeling of aloneness that can accompany it. In 1993 Howard Rheingold wrote about feeling a connectedness online in his book Virtual Communities, Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. (There is also a revised 2000 edition).

People who were looking for answers found friendship, advice, shared sorrow and support with others who they never physically had met. Their conversations and communications formed a kinship that became the basis for calling the geographically dispersed citizens members of the same community.

At CaringBridge, they embody the best of this phenomenon with their web services that allow for "A place to heal, celebrate and share."

CaringBridge is a nonprofit organization which offers free personalized Web sites to people who through life's circumstance and significant events need it most in order to stay in touch with family and friends. Their mission as stated is "to bring together a global community of care powered by the love of family and friends in an easy, accessible and private way."

On May 11, 2006, Jayna Bean Doll was born. In very short order her family found out that the right side of Jayna's brain was larger than the left and had not developed correctly. She was given Phenobarbital and was air lifted to Children's Hospital in Seattle.

It became clear after many seizures that surgery would be necessary and at just 28 days old, she was handed to surgeons who performed a functional hemispherectomy.

This week she celebrates her first birthday.

Her story and the families can be found of the CaringBridge site at Jaynabean, the area her family has been using to keep everyone up to date. The site allows for the blogging a journal, a guestbook, photos, links, tributes and administrative log in for the author(s) of the content to keep everyone updated.

The site operates through donations from the families who use CaringBridge and from healthcare sponsors and corporations

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