Heart to Heart Ambassadors

The Heart to Heart Ambassador Program provides patients and family members with the unique opportunity to give back to the congenital heart disease (CHD) community through providing one-on-one peer support to members, serving as a visible presence within their communities on behalf of ACHA and assisting with ACHA projects and initiatives through involvement in one of our Affinity Groups.

Ambassadors are chosen after a comprehensive application and interview process including submitting an application with three references (for patient applicants – one of which must be from an ACHD trained medical professional), an interview with the program coordinator and consultant, and an in-person orientation training program.

Currently, the program is comprised of over 50 Ambassadors from 26 states. The 2018 application process is now closed. More information about the next application cycle will be available in Spring 2019.

To read more about the opportunities available for Heart to Heart Ambassadors, see the Individual and Community Support sections below. 

 

Meet our Ambassadors

 

Heart to Heart Ambassador Program Team

Membership & Volunteer Coordinator, ACHA
Misty Sharpe

Program & Mental Health Consultant
Tracy Livecchi, LCSW

Individual Support

The ACHA Heart to Heart Ambassador Program connects ACHA patient and family members with trained peers who provide support, guidance and resources.

ACHA’s individual support program offers members of ACHA and their family the opportunity to connect one-on-one with other CHD patients or family members in a positive, supportive way. While each person’s experience with congenital heart disease (CHD) is unique, many patients find it helpful to talk to someone who has been or is currently in a similar medical situation.

After completing a support request form, in order to personalize each match, all members will talk with the program coordinator via telephone to determine his/her specific needs. Following this discussion, the member will be matched with the Ambassador who most closely meets those needs. Members often request support when he or she will be undergoing a new procedure or surgery, are experiencing a change in health, were recently diagnosed with a CHD, or want to speak with someone regarding life changes, such as disability or family planning. Matches are three months in length and focus on member education, self-advocacy and empowerment.

If you think you might benefit by being matched with an Ambassador, please click here for a support request application.

Community Support

Heart to Heart Ambassadors champion ACHA’s mission through raising public awareness, partnering with their local medical communities, creating education resources for their peers, and raising funds to extend the reach of ACHA.

Ambassadors are viewed as leaders within this community and as key volunteers within the organization. Opportunities exist to lead and be involved in development of various projects and initiatives in one of six Affinity Groups. Ambassadors also communicate with members and volunteers who are interested in being involved with projects and initiatives of one of our Affinity Groups. These groups include the following:

Outreach: Our Outreach Affinity Group is focused on providing networking opportunities for ACHD patients across the United States, partnering with local ACHD programs and assisting in various outreach efforts on behalf of ACHA. Initiatives include establishing Meet and Greet events in cities across the U.S., promoting ACHD Program Accreditation and patient involvement in hospital-associated Patient Family Advisory Councils, and increasing awareness of ACHA in regional and local areas. If you’d like more information about outreach initiatives, or would like to plan a Meet and Greet event in your area, please email info@achaheart.org.

Advocacy: This group is focused on grassroots advocacy efforts through engaging our members, both patient/family and medical professionals, at the local level. Initiatives for this group include development of an in-district advocacy day during summer Congressional recess, creation of resources for members wanting to learn more about advocacy, and continuing advocacy efforts year round in addition to the annual Congenital Heart Legislative Conference. If you are interested in becoming involved with the Advocacy Affinity Group, please email info@achaheart.org.

Education: Our Education Affinity Group is focused on developing educational resources for our members. This group assists the Senior Education Manager with additional projects and initiatives as needed, such as developing Q & A resources for specific defects or topics. For 2018, projects will be focused on mental health, transition to adult care, insurance terminology, teen/college age resources, and resources for caregivers. If you have an idea for an educational resource, or have a particular skill set or experience you think would be helpful in developing these resources, please email info@achaheart.org.

Forum & Online Presence: Ambassadors involved with our Forum & Online Presence Affinity Group serve as moderators for our online discussion forum and collaborate with our Communications Manager on additional social and news media projects and initiatives. If you have an idea for a project, or are sharing your story with your local news media and would like to highlight ACHA, please email info@achaheart.org.

Speakers Bureau: Our Speaker’s Bureau is comprised of Ambassadors and volunteers who share their story and speak on behalf of ACHA at events on a variety of topics. Topics for talks are developed by Ambassadors with very specific points to keep our messaging consistent across the country. As our Speaker’s Bureau is developed, more information will become available regarding members of the Bureau, our menu of speech topics and how to join the Speaker’s Bureau. If you would like to request a speaker for your event, please email info@achaheart.org.

Find out more

For additional information about either aspect of the Heart to Heart Ambassador Program, please email msharpe@achaheart.org.

 

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