July 2002

Grant Results

National Program

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

SUMMARY

Starting in March 1998, clergy in Waterbury, Conn. developed the Waterbury AIDS Outreach Ministries Program, a project to create a series of retreats and a buddy system for people with AIDS.

The clergy had been holding special healing services for people with AIDS but wanted to reach out beyond their congregations.

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

Key Results

  • Project staff recruited a team of about eight volunteers to act as buddies to people with AIDS.
  • Staff held six retreats in churches during the grant period.
  • The volunteers often ran into difficulty establishing relationships with their matched care recipients.

Funding
RWJF supported this project with a grant of $25,000 from March 1998 to January 2000.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

Clergy in Waterbury had been holding healing services for AIDS patients but had had little success reaching those outside their congregations.

They also found that AIDS patients often felt alienated from churches because of the shame and stigma that can go along with the AIDS virus.

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THE PROJECT

Starting in March 1998, clergy in Waterbury, Conn. developed the Waterbury AIDS Outreach Ministries Program, a project to create a series of retreats and a buddy system for people with AIDS.

The clergy had been holding special healing services for people with AIDS, seeking to give them hope and comfort about their disease and life. But they had had little success in reaching AIDS patients outside of their congregations. They contacted the AIDS Ministries Program of Connecticut, which helped introduce them to AIDS patients through social service agencies. The clergy then held a retreat with five AIDS patients and one patient's partner.

The original goal of the Faith in Action® project was to hold a series of one-day retreats for people with AIDS, get to know them on an on-going basis, and then institute a buddy program.

The project recruited one team of about eight volunteers to act as buddies for people with AIDS, visiting them on a regular basis. The volunteers came from member congregations and the community.

Training included "AIDS 101," universal precautions to take in working with AIDS patients, and grieving deaths.

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RESULTS

  • Project staff recruited a team of about eight volunteers to act as buddies to people with AIDS.
    • One person needed weekly visits and transportation for routine needs.
    • Two preferred phone contacts to talk through difficult situations.
    • Three others needed help acquiring household furnishings such as kitchen utensils and bed and bath linens. Volunteers collected items and helped with the delivery.
  • The volunteers often had problems establishing relationships with their matched care recipients. New AIDS drugs had come out and many patients did not seem to consider themselves particularly sick.
  • Staff held six retreats in churches during the grant period. Approximately 30 people attended each.

Before each retreat, the project made an educational presentation on AIDS with the pastor or a church committee, such as outreach or Christian Education.

The retreat included a time of centering (a quiet period that included music and a reading focusing on one's ability to change or heal). It also included a reading, a topic to discuss in both small and large groups, a physical activity, and a reflective activity.

Many of the AIDS patients who participated remarked that had relatively easy access to physical services but there was little to address their spiritual concerns and needs.

"The function [of the retreat] is really a spiritual healing," the project director said. "Just a sense that you are connected to the community. You are wanted in the community. It's a reflective day. A day to feel good about yourself."

An AIDS awareness service, a World AIDS Day and an International Candlelight Memorial was also held during the project.

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AFTER THE GRANT

The grantee, AIDS Ministries Program of Hartford is now part of the Salvation Army. The project is continuing with funding from the Salvation Army and church donations. It plans to try and encourage more involvement from people with AIDS to volunteer as buddies and to start a support group for families.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Faith in Action(R) I: Hartford, Conn.

Grantee

Waterbury AIDS Outreach Ministries Program, AIDS Ministries Program of Connecticut (Hartford,  CT)

  • Amount: $ 25,000
    Dates: March 1998 to January 2000
    ID#:  033938

Contact

Nancy Allen
(860) 543-8406 ext. 137
aids_advocacy@yahoo.com

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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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