July 2002

Grant Results

National Program

Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program, Faith in Action(R), Generation 2 and Generation 3

SUMMARY

During 1996 and 1997, staff at the Prestera Center for Mental Health Services, a nonprofit agency that provides social and mental health services in Huntington, W.Va., developed the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Network to provided companionship, visiting, respite care and transportation for elderly people.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program, Faith in Action®, Generation 2 and Generation 3 national program.

Key Results

  • Project staff recruited 50 volunteers from more than 25 different congregations. The volunteer caregivers logged more than 1,700 hours working with 77 care recipients.

Funding
RWJF supported this project through a grant of $25,000.

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THE PROJECT

Staff at the Prestera Center saw a need for companionship, visiting, respite care and transportation for adults with serious mental illness, homeless individuals, families with disabled children, and the elderly and disabled. As the grant began, the newly hired project director decided to focus the project's energies on working with the elderly. They represented a large population and many were not receiving needed services.

The Faith in Action® project spent about six months developing procedures, training volunteers, and networking in the community to let people know about the network and its services. One of the key messages the director tried to convey to religious leaders and others in the community was that Faith in Action sought to complement existing services offered, not take them over.

The project struggled to involve some congregations. Some declined to become part of the coalition because they wanted to evangelize and proselytize to the care recipients, which the Faith in Action program prohibits.

Volunteers were recruited from congregations, civic organizations, a local university, and through advertisements in the newspaper. All volunteers went through an eight-hour training that was held in four sessions. The training included:

  • Orientation.
  • Policies and procedures.
  • Communications skills, especially in working with the elderly.
  • The role of spirituality in the program.

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RESULTS

  • Project staff recruited 50 volunteers from more than 25 different congregations. The volunteer caregivers logged more than 1,700 hours working with 77 care recipients. Volunteers gave rides, did errands and chores, shopped, provided respite care, visited, and helped with paperwork. While most of the care receivers were older adults, volunteers also worked with people with disabilities of all ages.

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LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Separating from a social service agency can help a Faith in Action project grow. About a year into the project, its advisory board separated from the Prestera Center and formed its own nonprofit organization, the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Network. The board was concerned that potential funders would see its tie to a long-standing agency and assume that the program did not need additional money. The move turned out to be the right one. The newly independent Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Network secured grants that it would not have received if it had been affiliated with an agency.

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AFTER THE GRANT

Since the grant ended, the project has started a respite program for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, and provides mentoring for women in recovery from substance abuse addictions. It has also expanded to provide services to Lawrence County, Ohio, which is across the river from Huntington, W.Va. Funding has come primarily from local foundations and congregations.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Faith in Action(R) I: Huntington, W.Va.

Grantee

Prestera Center for Mental Health Services (Huntington,  WV)

  • Amount: $ 25,000
    Dates: March 1996 to November 1997
    ID#:  028938

Contact

Laura P. Gilliam
(304) 697-1274
ivcn@ezwv.net

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Report prepared by: Susan Parker
Reviewed by: Janet Heroux
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Paul Jellinek
Program Officer: Rosemary Gibson
Program Officer: Judith Stavisky

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