April 2007

Grant Results

National Program

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


From 2001 to 2004, staff at Sherwood Faith in Action in Sherwood, Ore., recruited, trained and deployed volunteers to provide caregiver services locally to both disabled and frail elderly people.

Sponsored by Providence Newberg Hospital, Sherwood Faith in Action is a coalition of 11 organizations (churches, social service organizations and the local public library). It is the second of two Faith in Action sites started by the hospital; the first was Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers in Newburg, Ore. (See Grant Results on ID# 027746.)

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

Key Results

  • Project staff recruited 34 volunteers who, in 2004, provided more than 1,300 hours of service to care recipients. Services ranged from household chores to friendly visits and transportation. In 2006, the volunteer force grew to 40 regular volunteers and more than 110 who provided care assistance on special occasions.
  • In 2004, a total of 31 frail elderly and disabled people received care assistance from volunteers working with Sherwood Faith in Action. By 2006, this figure had grown to approximately 300.

RWJF provided a solicited grant of $35,000 for this project from September 2001 to February 2004.

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According to a report issued by Washington County — one of three Oregon counties making up the greater Portland metropolitan area — 75 percent of its citizens over age 65 live below the county's median income, and from 7,500 to 9,000 of these people have chronic health conditions that require assistance with one or more activities of daily living.

Although the 2000 census showed Sherwood to be the fastest-growing community in Oregon, few services have been put into place to meet the needs of this growing and aged population. In addition, many of these people live in rural areas, making access to these services even more difficult.

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The basic notion of helping a neighbor in need is deeply rooted in the world's major faiths, and many congregations provide some level of caregiving. However, often these efforts are on a small scale, poorly organized and not well promoted.

RWJF began its funding of interfaith volunteer caregiving in 1983, with a national demonstration program, the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program. The Faith in Action program grew out of this initiative in 1993.

The program seeks to encourage congregations representing various faiths in a community to come together; hire a paid director; and establish a single, community-wide program that provides nonmedical assistance through volunteers drawn largely from participating congregations.

For a full description of the program's history and activities, see Grant Results on Faith in Action. RWJF made an earlier grant to Providence Newberg Health Foundation under the Faith in Action program. See Grant Results on ID# 027746.

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Under this grant, Providence Newberg Hospital served as the sponsor of an 11-member coalition — called Sherwood Faith in Action — that recruited, trained and deployed volunteers to provide caregiver services locally to frail elderly and disabled people. Original coalition members included:

  • Sherwood United Methodist Church
  • Sherwood Senior Center
  • St. Francis Catholic Church
  • Area Agency on Aging
  • Sherwood Library
  • Sherwood Community Friends Church
  • St. Paul Lutheran Church
  • Providence Newberg Hospital
  • Providence Sherwood Family Medicine
  • Ride Connection
  • Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is

Overseen by a coordinator and an eight-member board of directors, the coalition recruits volunteers from the community to perform the following tasks for elderly citizens:

  • Housekeeping
  • Correspondence
  • Financial tasks
  • Errands
  • Shopping
  • Friendly visitor
  • Yard work
  • Reading
  • Respite care relief
  • Special needs
  • Spiritual support
  • Telephone reassurance
  • Transportation

Project staff provides a one-hour introductory orientation meeting for volunteers, covering issues relevant to working with elderly people and opportunities for volunteering. Volunteers typically provide services in areas they have experience with, minimizing the need for further training.

Recruiting Volunteers

To publicize the program, recruit volunteers and encourage further involvement, project staff members have given presentations to groups such as the Rotary Club, chamber of commerce and local churches. They also created a Web site that provides a brief summary of services provided. (See the Bibliography for details.)

In addition, staff makes special efforts to identify rural citizens in need through Meals on Wheels and by networking among its coalition partners.

Other Funding

Sherwood Faith in Action received additional revenues through the Older Americans Act — a federal program administered by the states — that pays for voluntary care assistance provided to elderly people. According to the project coordinator, the funds amounted to approximately $40 per senior served.

Sherwood Faith in Action also conducts an annual, week-long giving campaign, in which project staff members solicit funds from their coalition partners and local businesses.

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The project yielded the following results during the grant period:

  • Project staff recruited 34 regular volunteers who, in 2004, provided more than 1,300 hours of service to care recipients.
  • Some 31 frail elderly and disabled people received care assistance from volunteers working with Sherwood Faith in Action. Some 90 percent of care recipients were frail elderly; 10 percent were disabled.
  • Project staff established Good Samaritan Saturday, a biannual event that draws on the services of more than 110 special volunteers. In this event, regular volunteers combine with special volunteers from local churches and community agencies to perform household and outdoor chores for Sherwood and southwest Washington County seniors. After a group breakfast, the volunteers spend half a day mowing lawns, cleaning gutters, trimming hedges, weeding gardens, planting flowers and washing windows.

    Timothy Edwards was the first coordinator for Sherwood Faith in Action. Now retired, he recalls one of his first assignments as a caregiver: "He was an old curmudgeon who everyone else was scared of. I mean, this guy was really grumpy … yelling at people and denigrating them in the worst way. But he needed help to get around, and since I was the program coordinator, I took it on, driving him to the store and the doctor's office, and sometimes just dropping by to chat with him. At some point, I learned that he had a sister he was estranged from living in the next town. They hadn't seen each other in over 20 years.

    "It was shortly after that that he was diagnosed with cancer, and as his end drew near and he ended up in hospice, I asked him if he wanted to see his sister. At first he said no, but then, finally, he said okay. So I picked up his sister and brought her to the hospice, and they spent three hours together that afternoon, reminiscing about their childhood. By the time she left, they were friends again. And a few days later, his last words to me were 'Thank you.'"

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  1. Recruit citizens with local influence for your board of directors. It is easy to find well-meaning, helpful people to sit on the board. However, board members who are also widely respected and influential can effectively position the organization as a key player in the community. But these individuals are also harder to recruit, possibly because their calendars are full. (Project Coordinator)

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When the RWJF grant ended in 2004, Providence Newberg Hospital picked up the tab for the project coordinator's salary. According to the project coordinator, Sherwood Faith in Action is well on its way to financial self-sufficiency, with revenues coming chiefly from the annual giving campaign, the Older American's Act and Oregon's Run for the Roses.

Launched in June 2004 in partnership with the Sherwood Senior Center, Run for the Roses is now Sherwood Faith in Action's major fund-raising event. Revenues come from the $25 registration fee for the 5K–10K run, as well as donations from sponsors (corporations and local businesses).

The third annual Run for the Roses event took place in June 2006, with 17 sponsors and 450 runners. Information about Oregon's Run for the Roses, including registration for the 2007 run, appears on the event Web site.

The number of Sherwood Faith in Action coalition members, volunteers and people served has also risen:

  • Between 2004 and 2006, the coalition doubled in size, growing to 22 from 11 members, including the City of Sherwood. For a list of coalition members, see the Appendix.
  • The number of regular volunteers grew to 40 in 2006 from 34 in 2004.
  • The number of frail elderly and disabled people receiving care assistance grew to approximately 300 in 2006 from 31 in 2004.

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Faith in Action: Replication of the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program


Providence Newberg Health Foundation (Newberg,  OR)

  • Amount: $ 35,000
    Dates: September 2001 to February 2004
    ID#:  043294


Mark Federspiel
(503) 925-0585

Web Site


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Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)


  • City of Sherwood
  • Countryside Community Church
  • First Light Community Church
  • Harvest View Christian Church
  • New Life Assembly of God
  • Providence Medical Center
  • Prudential NW Properties
  • Rolling Hills Community Church
  • Sherwood Baha'i Community
  • Sherwood Bible Fellowship
  • Sherwood Community Friends Church
  • Sherwood Presbyterian Church
  • Sherwood Rotary
  • Sherwood Senior Center
  • Sherwood United Methodist
  • St. Francis Catholic Church
  • St. Paul Lutheran Church
  • Timberline Baptist Church
  • Washington County Dept. of Disability, Aging and Veterans Services
  • Willowbrook Free Methodist Church
  • Woodhaven Community Church
  • YMCA

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(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

World Wide Web Sites

http://faithinactionsherwood.org/services.html, the Web site for Sherwood Faith in Action, provides descriptions of care assistance services provided, events, lists of coalition and board members, opportunities to donate and other information. Sherwood, OR: Sherwood Faith in Action.

www.oregonsrunfortheroses.com, the Web site for Oregon's annual Run for the Roses, fund-raising event benefiting the Sherwood Senior Center and Sherwood Faith in Action. The Web site provides information on the event, past runners and their scores, the event route, sponsors and sponsorship opportunities and instructions on how to register for the next run in 2007. Sherwood, OR: Sherwood Faith in Action.

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Report prepared by: Robert Crum
Reviewed by: Jayme Hannay
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Judith S. Stavisky

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