I was not entirely sure what to expect from serving with In-Home Respite Care when I first arrived. The program provides a break for caregivers who are responsible for family members with special needs. Until I came to Christian Appalachian Project (CAP) there had never been a volunteer or AmeriCorps member to fill the position. However, I was ready to learn from my program manager and Renee’, the employee who has served her participants for many years.
Renee’ helped introduce me to our participants so that I could establish my own relationships with them and gain their trust. Then, I began going to their houses and providing respite care for them and their caregivers. Each day looks different which is unique to my position. Some days I am keeping my participant company while their caregiver runs errands while other days I am assisting with more personal care needs.
Direct service has been very much impacted by COVID-19 but thankfully, CAP is focused on the needs of our participants and has a service-based mission that drives myself and fellow volunteers to action. We always find a way to serve regardless of the circumstances. I have personally called and texted my participants; checked in on them, sent postcards to their homes, and recorded songs for them on my ukulele. I hope that I am lifting their spirits during this challenging time. If we can’t be there in person, we try to bring a sense of hope to them during this time of separation. The love of Christ and the desire to serve cannot be quarantined.
Living in community during this time has honestly been the greatest blessing. We are in similar positions where our service has been impacted. Thankfully, we are in this together which provides me with solace and hope. With more time spent at our community house, we dove into projects to improve our home and create an improved environment for us to thrive. I believe this will only better equip us to serve our participants when we resume service.
As challenging as it is not to be out and about and in contact with my participants, I feel that God has presented each and every one of us with the opportunity to slow down and refocus. I have taken this time to spend more quality time with God and strengthen my spirituality which is a goal that I wanted to achieve during my year of service. My hope is that after we are reunited with our participants and restart direct service, we will not take any moments for granted. I pray that conversations will last a bit longer, hugs be a bit tighter, smiles be a bit brighter, and that service be transformed and renewed as God has transformed us and renewed us during this time.
Bri is a One-Year volunteer and AmeriCorps member serving in In-Home Respite in Rockcastle County. If you want to learn more about volunteering with CAP or AmeriCorps opportunities, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.