This week we welcome guest blogger Kate Walton, MA, Executive Director of the Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven. You can reach Kate directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Albertus is proud to support the work of IVCG. You can help by participating in the Cook and Care Walk-a-Thon, hosted by Albertus Magnus College on October 20, 2013. Learn more at Cook and Care Walk-a-Thon or visit their Facebook page here.
Back in 1984 an extraordinary handful of local New Haven folks from a bunch of different churches, temples, synagogues and mosques got together and responded to an extraordinary opportunity. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had put forth national funding to encourage interfaith dialogue between congregations for the purpose of creating volunteer services for the elderly. Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven was selected for funding in the first national round, and now some 30 years later, this small organization continues its vital mission.
Who knew just how many little old ladies and gentlemen were out there living well into their 90’s and even some 100’s in their own home sweet homes? “Aging at Home” is now a “model” these days but when I became director of IVCG just over a year ago I knew that IVCG had pioneered the model a long time ago. Back in the early 1990’s, I found myself in the sandwich generation when Parkinson’s Disease ravaged my amazing mother and I heard there was a program of friendly visiting and neighborly assistance. One phone call resulted in a wonderful lady materializing that proved to become a dear friend to my mother and a loyal companion for the remaining years of her life. Much later on, when offered the position to lead Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers after many years as a human service non-profit administrator; I knew that this was an opportunity to both give back for the help given to my own family, and to work for a very worthy endeavor. Only now do I fully comprehend how prescient and essential was the thinking of IVCG’s founders.
According to the 2014 Action Plan of the CT Commission on Aging, during the next 15 years the 65+ population in Connecticut will increase by an astounding 64%. The population 21 to 65 years of age will decline by 2%. Clearly, Connecticut needs to be expanding creative and responsive programming that provides strategic support that enables elders to continue living independently in their own homes for way longer than they would be able to – without strategic assistance. Friendships, reassurance and the sharing of intellectual, artistic and cultural interests make life profoundly more meaningful for the homebound elder – and the volunteers who give of themselves. Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven provides about 500 hours of free service each month transporting to medical appointments, taking elders food shopping and visiting them in their homes.
Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven is supported by the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut and our partnering congregations, donors, and hardworking dedicated volunteers. We also partner with other local non-profit service organizations to provide Thanksgiving meals to over 800 local homebound seniors on Thanksgiving Day, and to raise funds through the Cook and Care Walkathon – hosted this year for the first time at Albertus Magnus College.
NEXT WEEK – Learn more about the Cook and Care Collaboration.