Ohio Circle of Friends Volunteers Reach Out to Rural Areas

Faith in Action

Field of Work: Providing volunteer services for elderly and disabled people through interfaith programs.

Problem Synopsis: In 1983, more than 10 million American elderly or persons with chronic disabilities had limited ability to carry on such essential activities of daily living as feeding, dressing, and bathing. Such individuals usually require a mix of medical and supportive services to help with ordinary activities of daily living such as feeding, bathing, dressing, housekeeping and transportation. In the late 1990's, the local Red Cross stopped providing rides to distant health appointments in rural Circleville, Ohio.

Synopsis of the Work: Faith in Action, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, funded hundreds of projects across the country to support interfaith volunteer caregiving. The Faith in Action project in Circleville stepped into the breach, beginning with RWJF funding in 1998. The project, located at the Berger Health System, advertised its services and recruited volunteers through the local newspaper, a radio station and churches.

Key Results: The project reported the following results:

  • The project recruited 35 volunteers who provided assistance to 107 families with homebound, disabled, frail or elderly members. Recipients ranged in age from 40 to over 80. Volunteers provided light housekeeping, handyman chores, respite care, transportation, shopping, yard work, friendly visiting and telephone contact.

    Some people simply needed someone to install a handrail or elevate a sofa with blocks to make it easier for them to sit down and get up.

    One of the major services provided was transportation to the hospital and health appointments in Columbus, Ohio, 20 miles away once the Red Cross stopped providing that service.