A Point of the Crown: Service

msqlp groupThe Miss America Organization’s crowns have four points, at every level of competition. These four points are what set us apart from every other pageant and scholarship competition, and is just one of the reasons I love being a representative in this organization. The point of the crown that means the most to me is “Service.” I am currently an intern at the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life Project (MSQLP), a non-profit that serves families and individuals in the tri-county area of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito. MSQLP recognizes that people living with chronic illness have unmet needs and is committed to filling these gaps by improving the quality of life of persons with Multiple Sclerosis and have expanded to serve those with Parkinson’s disease. We work with our clients and families to create comprehensive, individual plans and programs that support client independence and all of our services are free.

Our clients are offered case management services, support services, and MSQLP’s water aerobics program. We also provide our clients and community with education and advocacy. MSQLP has assisted 354 clients and over 250 caregivers since the case management program started in 2004.

After having a few months of experience within this agency, I noticed that there was a need for caregiver support. At our support groups, some of our clients bring along their significant others, who are also their caregivers. Our family caregivers expressed that they could benefit from a support group of their own, or some service that helps them feel supported. This is when I knew that I wanted to create a workshop just for the caregivers. I wanted to give them proper resources, support, and maybe some tips to better their health and wellness.

msqlp heartAs Miss Silicon Valley, my platform is Caregiver Support in the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s Community. I have created a workshop that will take place in March, for our clients’ caregivers. There will be discussion about self-care practices and coping mechanisms, a yoga therapist will join us to educate and lead the group in breathing exercises and stress relief exercises, resources will be passed on to the caregivers regarding stress management, support, and services available for them. There will also be a licensed therapist coming to discuss counseling and how to access it through insurance. I will also have them connect with each other and find support without the group, since they have a lot in common.

I am so excited to implement this workshop that I have created for our caregivers and am striving to have it implemented through different agencies in California. This workshop doesn’t have to be limited to caregivers in the MS and Parkinson’s community, and I hope to see it helping family caregivers in any community in the future!

To learn more about MSQLP, visit their website or go like us on Facebook!

Melissa Bowling

Follow my journey on Instagram: @misssiliconvalley