If you haven’t heard, the Diabetes Hands Foundation (which housed TuDiabetes, EsTuDiabetes, and Diabetes Advocates) announced yesterday that their board of directors has made the decision to wind down operations. TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes will have a new home under the umbrella of BeyondType1.
I should preface my thoughts on this by noting: I am a member of TuDiabetes, although I’m not a terribly active one. Periodically, I’ll get a “Forum Summary” email with something in it that catches my eye, and I’ll click over and make a comment, but that’s about the extent of my participation. Part of the reason is simple: there’s only 24 hours in the day, and I sometimes have things that I need to be doing beyond being online, so I’ve been forced to limit my regular participation to the forums and sites where I fit best.
I also get non-profits. I serve on the boards of directors of two of them in my community, and they make up my entire client base as an IT consultant.
While I’m sad to see any 501(c)(3) in the diabetes space go, ANY industry (and yes, I think of “Diabetes Non-profit” as being an industry) goes through cycles of proliferation and consolidation. People identify unfilled niches, and start groups to fill them. Eventually, you wind up with so many groups that the overall community fractures, just from the simple reason that there are so many places, people become unaware of things that are happening in places they don’t visit. Also, the limited availability of funding plays a role. With more competition for the dollars donated by patients, families, advocates, and industry, everyone’s slice of the pie gets smaller- and there are certain minimum costs that any organization needs to meet just to exist, even before they actually DO anything to help PWDs.
For those reasons, I’m not broken up about yesterday’s announcement. Organizations (like people) NEVER last forever. Some last longer than others, but the length of time that an organization exists doesn’t always provide an accurate measure of its impact. DHF has had a positive impact on a huge segment of the diabetes world. The online forums they created have been a home for vast swaths of both the T1 and T2 communities, and because they are under one roof, they have fostered interaction between these sometimes separate groups of PWDs, allowing them to find areas of commonality in addition to identifying areas where there are different concerns.
My great wish is that the work of bringing PWDs together when it benefits us all will continue with TuDiabetes and EsTuDiabetes having a new home. Maybe we’ll see the emergence of a BeyondType2, with BT2 and BT1 eventually both being parts of a larger BeyondDiabetes organization. We all – regardless of type – face some of the same challenges. Access to testing supplies, meds (although not necessarily the same ones), the challenges of staving off complications and dealing with them when they DO occur; these are all things that don’t discriminate by type. Some of the rifts that exist in the larger diabetes community are the result of resentment caused by ignorance on the part of the general public. There are enormous opportunities for education to lessen these schisms and bring all of us together. I fervently hope that this new whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.