Submitted by Helen Howard, Executive Director

The mission statement of Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee is: A gift of time and caring support to adults with persistent health needs, and their families. The program is located in Owosso, just east of Memorial Healthcare in the historic brick home. The program serves adults with health and medical challenges throughout the county, providing a specific volunteer to help persons and their caregiving families each week for usually 1.5 to three hours a week. For 24/7 family caregivers, up to four hours of help may be provided. Patient and Caregiver education and referrals to the many other senior and healthcare services available is also provided by Case Managers with the program.

The program is currently serving up to 110 patients a month throughout the county, and by the end of the year will have served 240 persons and their caregiving families, which is an increase since 2015. The program is based on the Robert Wood Johnson Faith in Action Model. Volunteers provide primarily friendly visiting for the person with medical challenges, and respite for the family caregivers. Many family caregivers use this opportunity to do weekly grocery shopping and errands, and attend to their own physician appointments, yard work, or just having lunch out with a friend.

Some persons and caregiving families receive services from the program for years, and some even for 10 years, by the same volunteer, which is a testament to the dedication of many of the program’s volunteers. This is a huge gift to the community from our volunteers. Whether a volunteer helps in the office, or visits an elderly neighbor, or helps a 24/7 family caregiver so they can get their grocery shopping done, or shovels snow at the office, all of these volunteer hours are helping the program provide more services, and conserve on costs.

Executive Director, Helen Howard explains, the connections that our volunteers make with the families they serve, is integral to the success and perpetuation of our program. We all have the capacity to give a few hours of time a week, and make a real and lasting difference, whether it is volunteering for patients and families, Board leadership, helping with fundraisers, or in the office, this all makes a difference. We can also tell our friends and family how important this work and this giving the gift of our time is, not only to those we serve, but how valuable it is to ourselves also. We hope that our volunteers will continue to share the enormous impact we can make together with Respite Volunteers. Additional volunteers are needed throughout the county, and the next Volunteer Training is planned for February.

Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee was last modified: January 2nd, 2017 by Karen Elford