Writer / Lisa Mitchell
Photographs provided

Few things hit a person’s heart harder than when a friend is struck with a tragedy, loss or unexpected diagnosis. The immediate instinct of a friend is to jump in and help, to find a way to comfort their friend and provide much needed support. They just want to help.

That was the exact feeling that Broad Ripple resident Aimee Kandrac and her friends had when their friend Laura was diagnosed with brain cancer, and her life was turned completely upside down. During Laura’s battle with the disease, “Laura’s Team,” as they dubbed their group of friends, was formed, and they became collective caregivers to help ease the burden of life’s everyday tasks and responsibilities for Laura. It was during that time that Aimee realized the joy that comes when a group of people work together to care for someone well and in ways that really help them manage their “new normal” while dealing with an illness or tragedy.

Many people find themselves in similar situations everyday: a friend or family member finds themselves needing help and care due to an illness or tragedy. How do you know what they really need? And how can you help organize an effective network of other concerned friends and family members to ensure that they are continually cared for in all the ways that may really be of help to them during their toughest moments?

Now there’s a tool that lets friends who want to help do what they do best: provide care, comfort and support to those they love when they need it most in way that best matches their immediate needs. Welcome to WhatFriendsDo (whatfriendsdo.com).

WhatFriendsDo is a caregiver’s best friend when it comes to organizing the right type of help for the person at the right time and in exactly the right way. It is an easy-to-use, completely free website that puts all the tools for communication, encouragement and coordination of helpful services in one spot. Instead of group texts or Facebook groups that can be frustrating, slow and ineffective in really putting a care plan into action, WhatFriendsDo takes the desire to help and lets people do so in a way that is an exact fit for both them and their friend receiving the helping hand.

WhatFriendsDo is the creation of Aimee, along with her mother and sister, with Aimee currently serving as Founder and CEO. In addition to being part of the care team for her friend Laura during her battle with brain cancer, Kandrac shares another pivotal experience that convinced her and her family that WhatFriendsDo was a service that needed to be created.

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Aimee shares, “When someone was sick or in the hospital, my parents were the first ones to go sit at the hospital and be there for the family. It’s what our family did. During the time my dad was sick and when he later passed, we were recipients of that same care and love. After that experience and knowing the positive impact that receiving that care and support from friends had on our family during that very difficult time, my mom called me and said, ‘This is something we need to do.’

“After putting two kids to bed and having a husband studying for med school, I agreed that we needed to do it. We needed to give people a tool to help manage supporting their friends. There was a passionate yes, no hesitation. It had to happen, and we were the ones to do it.”

Kandrac and her team began to build a tool around the concept of allowing a close friend or family member to coordinate the care that is really needed to support their friend in just the right ways. Whether it is coordinating meals, arranging for childcare or ensuring that their friend’s lawn is mowed regularly or driveway is shoveled when needed, WhatFriendsDo helps everyone find a way to help and provide care in a way that is a good fit for them and is truly helpful to the person receiving the assistance.

Kandrac recognizes that this is not a new idea, friends wanting to help friends during their times of illness or tragedy. She says, “This is not a new concept in our culture. This is what we do. We are just bringing the technology and tools to help people do it more efficiently. With social media, we know more people, and we want to truly help them in a way that’s appropriate to our level of relationship with them. We allow them to do that with WhatFriendsDo.”

WhatFriendsDo works to assist care coordinators in three primary ways:

Communication: A caregiver can share their friend’s story in one consistent place, so everyone involved is hearing the same information and knows exactly where to go for updates and details on how they can help.

Organization: It helps concerned friends find the best fit for how they can help with specific tasks and lets them know they are helping in the exact right way to help their friend as they adjust to their “new normal.”

Support: Show your support and love through encouraging messages, picking up a weekly task that will help or coordinating a coffee talk with a group of friends. There are so many ways to show your support, and hundreds of ideas are provided on the site.

Trying to care for a friend in the right ways can be tricky territory to navigate and may seem like an overwhelming task to take on, but you don’t have to do it on your own with WhatFriendsDo. The WhatFriendsDo site gives you access to a team of people ready to provide one-on-one care planning assistance if needed. They call it a “friendspert,” and that role is to serve as a personal concierge for caregivers.

Kandrac says, “Everyone on the WhatFriendsDo team has personally experienced some sort of loss or longterm health challenge with their family or themselves. Empathy comes very naturally for this team because they have been there.”

If you or someone you know has a friend or family member that is currently trying to manage life in the midst of an illness or tragedy, create a care team today at whatfriendsdo.com. Start doing what friends do – caring and supporting the people you love in the best possible way.

Comments 2

  1. Jody Hook says:

    I think this is a fantastic concept. In my lifetime I have had several friends that desperately needed help and assistance during serious illness and family losses. I always tried to "take care" of them myself and found it to be mostly rewarding but also exhausting! With a network of friends and helpers this could be done more efficiently without wearing out an individual caregiver. Yay for the great advice.
    Just so happens that Lisa Mitchell is my daughter and I am a very proud mother. She is so very wise for her age and she is willing to share her knowledge and wisdom to help others. A truly God driven person. As her family we are very blessed!

  2. Mary Martin says:

    Love this…great job Lisa!

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