*This article has been updated in July, 2020.
There are many apps and websites that help people help others in need in a personal and connected way, and often one-on-one.
Be My Eyes is a free Copenhagen-based app that connects blind people with volunteers from around the world via iPhones or iPads. The volunteers help via live video chat. It was the idea of a visually impaired Danish man who realized that the blind often need help with small everyday tasks and could use a ‘pair of eyes’. The tasks can be as simple as reading the expiration date on the milk carton to navigating a new place. The blind sign up for the service and are connected to sighted volunteers and through video chat they can resolve the problem the blind user is having. The app was launched in 2015.
SeeClickFix is a site where residents can post community problems like burglaries, pot holes or graffiti which alerts other community residents, news outlets and city officials to the problem. It was started by the co-founder when reporting graffiti to the New Haven, CT government, with no results. He knew his neighbors were reporting the graffiti as well, but “there was no accountability and no collaborative discussion”. Now, many public works departments and news offices around the country have made the SeeClickFix widget a part of their websites. There is a customizable SeeClickFix app which allows users to snap a photo of a pothole or drug sellers hang outs for example, and register them in their city’s 311 service system.
LotsaHelpingHands is a free app for iOS devices, and a great website whose purpose is to make life easier for caregivers and volunteers dealing with a medical crisis. It makes it possible for a caregiver to create a ‘care community’ of friends and service providers. A caregiver can post messages, blogs and photographs. Their care community can respond to needs. It is a great way to organize meals to be dropped off, rides to doctor’s appointments, medication pick-up and many other ways concerned friends and family can help a caregiver. Lotsa Helping Hands allows users to receive assistance with tasks like bill paying and doctor visit chaperones. Users can post medical and financial records. This type of unpaid assistance can be a lifesaver for families going through a crisis.
CareFlash is based in Austin, TX but partners with hundreds of providers nationwide. Its goals are to enhance comprehensive care and reduce caregiver burnout. The circumstances where CareFlash would be helpful are cognitive decline, illness, childbirth, aging, injury, behavioral challenge, addiction recovery and grief from loss. CareFlash enables users to create and operate a CareCommunity quickly and easily. Creating and operating a CareCommunity does not need any special education or training. Other similar websites and apps are eCare Diary and Care Calendar.
7 Cups of Tea is a free online emotional support service. Anyone can call and securely and anonymously talk to a trained, compassionate listener about anything that is on their mind. There are hundreds of active listeners available. The app is available for both iOS and Android.
AAA Roadside provides an easy way to request roadside service for someone else. As long as there is an AAA member with the person whose car has broken down, AAA will service any car having problems. If you see someone stranded on the side of the road looking helpless, and you are an AAA member, pull over, call AAA for them and wait until AAA arrives.
Random Acts of Kindness is a wonderful resource of inspiration to create a kinder culture in the community, workplaces, schools and more. The RAK blog is a thoughtful reminder of the importance of kindness.
For more, read ASE’s article, Random Acts of Kindness.