June 3, 2010

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The shortage of respite providers continues to be a significant barrier to respite access in many communities. At the same time, government funding for social services is shrinking. Turning to the private volunteer sector for assistance makes increasing sense. The faith-based community has a long history of supporting family caregivers through respite and can offer assurances to family caregivers who are often reluctant to ask for help or mistrustful of other outside agencies. This Webinar provides an overview of national models of interfaith caregiving, and an overview of innovative yet practical approaches that local faith-based congregations and communities can take to provide respite to family caregivers caring for children, adults, and the aging population. A “benevolence fund” voucher method will be highlighted. In addition, a volunteer respite program run by Lyngblomsten in St. Paul, MN, for individuals with early to mid-stage memory loss that is being nationally replicated by Lutheran Services of America is described, and a family caregiver shares her experiences with this program.


W. C. Hoecke (pronounced “heck-uh”), M.Ed., is spouse of Catherine and father of three children, one with special needs. WC pastored in Columbia for twelve years; for ten years, he volunteered as a support parent with Family Connection and helped coordinate Up on Downs (a support group for parents of children with Down syndrome). W.C. is currently the director of the South Carolina Family to Family Health Information and Education Grant at Family Connection. W.C. has led Fathers Network (a network of fathers of children of varying disabilities), and coordinates Family Connection’s Faith In Action Respite Project. He has worked for the past ten years finding respite solutions for South Carolina families. He served as a founding Board member of both the SC Respite Coalition, which is now collaborating with the AoA-funded SC Lifespan Respite Program, and the SC Fatherhood Practitioners Network W.C. is an often requested national spokesperson on these issues, a frequent conference keynoter and national trainer in fatherhood, respite, marriage, and faith-based initiatives.

Carolyn Klaver, RN, with 26 years of nursing experience, including nine years as a Parish Nurse, is the coordinator of the prize-winning respite program “The Gathering” for Lyngblomsten. Lyngblomsten, organized in 1906 by Norwegian women, is a nonprofit social ministry organization with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, providing quality care through its healthcare, housing facilities, and outreach programs. The Gathering provides respite for family caregivers of people with early to mid-stage memory loss. It is funded by the Brookdale Foundation and is being replicated nationally by Lutheran Services of America. With 24 church partners representing eight denominations, “The Gathering” relies on more than 200 volunteers and utilizes eight church sites in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Sherry Simpson, family caregiver and a respite consumer at The Gathering, St. Paul, MN. Sherry and her husband Don, for whom she has been a caregiver for five years, will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in September 2010. They love spending time with their nine grandchildren, traveling, playing golf and spending time with friends and neighbors.

  1. ARCH Fact Sheet: Respite and the Faith Community: This fact sheet is an update of an earlier ARCH fact sheet highlighting the reasons and the practical applications for faith-based congregations and communities to come together to provide respite. New national models are highlighted with lessons learned over the last two decades.
  2. Church Respite Benevolence Policy: This tool provides the policy and direction needed for faith-based communities to offer voucher respite programs.
  3. Finding Caregivers and Respite Providers This guide, based on the Partner Plus curriculum, and updated by Family Connection of South Carolina and the South Carolina Respite Coalition, provides practical yet in-depth advice on how to find and train respite providers for families caring for a child or adult with special needs.       

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