OPEN HEARTS DAY RESPITE AT NORTH FAYETTE UMC
Due to changes in the makeup of our congregation, in 2013 the children’s building at North Fayette UMC was being underutilized. Our once thriving children’s program was only using three rooms for infants, toddlers, and elementary age children. One wing had been turned over to the music department, but still several rooms were either empty or being used for storage. We needed a new ministry program to utilize this unused space.
As the population in all of our communities ages, care for the older members is a growing problem. Many adults with memory impairment require around the clock supervision. Care can be expensive. So in many cases this care must be provided by family members. This leaves little or no time for personal needs such as doctor appointments, hair appointments, grocery shopping, or simply alone time for rest. Day respite allows caregivers some free time to tend to their own personal needs.
After reviewing several options, our Administrative Council approved a recommendation by Cheryl Maxfield and the Evangelism Committee to consider a day respite program for senior citizens, targeting principally those suffering from some degree of dementia. During 2014 our committee of volunteers visited and observed both commercial and not-for-profit respite programs. We decided to model the ministry after Grace Arbor, the faith-based congregational respite ministry of First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville. However, a major consideration was insuring that the ministry would be self-funding because our budget was already stretched to the limit.
Participant fees would make the ministry self-funding after startup costs were covered by outside contributions and grants. The District Church Development Fund provided a grant to replace the loose carpet and hard tile with padded vinyl flooring. Grants from the Conference, the Board of Global Ministries, and the local EMC covered printing, advertising, postage, and initial salaries.
By the beginning of 2015 Janet Collins, a recently retired ER nurse, was hired to serve as director, Jan Warren-Rhoden was hired as assistant, and a corps of dedicated volunteers was assembled. The recruitment of participants was slow, but as we prepare to enter 2016, the ministry is approaching self-sufficiency and continues to grow. In addition, we are working with Fayette County Senior Services on a plan to bring members to Open Hearts once a week for an hour of music with our participants.
Participants are on-site Tuesday and Friday from 10 until 2. During this time they share stories, play games, exercise and have lunch. Their families enjoy having some time to tend to their own personal needs. Families of participants have said that not only do they receive some respite time, but also their loved ones return home happier and more emotionally stable after spending time with a group of their peers. This ministry is a blessing to the participants, their families, and our church family. Our children’s building is once again filled with music and laughter on weekdays!
Pastor, North Fayette UMC
LaGrange District Facebook Page