“I’ve had a lot of shots in my lifetime,” explained Barbara, “and just knowing that a support group stands with me is comforting.”
Barbara has been on the association's board of directors for about 12 years and was president for two years. She’s now the very popular Sunshine Lady which means that she sends cards to those experiencing sickness or bereavement. Since she was diagnosed on Feb. 2, she recognizes it as her birth date into diabetes. Her involvement in kids’ camp provides her with great satisfaction.
“If parents can see that I have controlled my diabetes and lived a long life, it gives hope to them and their children,” she explained.
Jim Smallwood has been involved with the Kingsport Diabetes Association for 15 years now and is currently serving as president of the association. Jim has seen a lot of changes in the organization over the years.
“With the popularity of the internet, people can get information at the click of a mouse,” Jim said. “This has decreased our membership a little bit but we still provide excellent healthcare professionals as speakers to share helpful information at every meeting.”
The local 503(c) group has fundraisers every year and keeps all of the money in local coffers.
The Kingsport Diabetes Association raises funds by recycling aluminum, by collecting used cell phones, and by selling ink cartridges to ink refillers. They also welcome donations and encourage people who have been diagnosed as diabetic to join the association for support and encouragement.
Club meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month on the Indian Path Campus in Building 2002, Room 203. There is a different program each month featuring trained medical professionals who share tips and techniques for better health care. The next meeting is scheduled Feb. 13. The featured speaker is Dustin Sims, member engagement coordinator for the Greater Kingsport Family YMCA.
“Those diagnosed with diabetes are getting younger and younger,” Jim explained, “I attribute this to a lack of exercise and poor diets.” Even though those diagnosed will never not be a diabetic, they can effectively control their health with good medical care, a proper amount of exercise, and healthy eating.
“People will never cease to be diabetic,” Jim shared,” but they can control their condition and prevent using meds with the right attention to their health.”
The organization also has a monthly newsletter that contains helpful information and articles. Those people interested in receiving a newsletter can contact Kay Oney at (423) 288-2052. The website explains fundraisers and the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) Walk which offers support for young diabetics and their families, as well as providing contact information and more details about Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and their warning signs.