Some of the Tri-Cities Area Faith in Action volunteers.
Betty, a senior citizen, is unable to drive. She’s grateful for the ride to the grocery store each week. Sandy is able to get to her doctor appointments. Jenny no longer has to rely on taxis or buses to get to the beauty shop each month. Bill is housebound and looks forward each week to a visit from Jim. Sandy has no family in the area but gets a call each week from Martha, who she considers her “adopted daughter.”
What do all of these individuals have in common? They all feel blessed to be a part of the family of care receivers from the local Tri-Cities Area Faith In Action volunteer program. Faith in Action volunteers provide their time, help and friendship to area residents. In some cases, this means the difference between independent living and a nursing home.
In 1983, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded 25 Interfaith Volunteer Caregiver coalitions across the country to test the feasibility of such programs. The mission was a great success. Today there are more than 1,300 Interfaith Volunteer Caregiver coalitions in the nation, providing care for senior citizens and disabled people.
The Tri-Cities Area Faith in Action organization originated in 2001. In January of that year, several churches and health service agencies determined the community’s needs and how they might best be served. By November, the first care receiver no longer had to travel by bus from Granite City to Maryville five days per week for radiation treatment.
Faith in Action volunteers provide many services. Some provide transportation to doctor appointments, the grocery store or other errands. Some volunteers develop a special relationship with someone in need by visiting each week or making a friendly phone call. Others do work around the house or general yard maintenance.
One of the volunteers stated she feels she’s the one receiving the benefit from helping those in need. A small donation of time — an hour per week — means so much to the care receiver and gives the volunteer satisfaction knowing it takes so little to make such a difference in someone’s life.
Unlike other Faith in Action coalitions that are independent organizations, the Tri-Cities Area Faith in Action became a part of the Madison County Catholic Charities in 2010. The Faith in Action program receives funding from several organizations in the area as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Bringing together care receivers and volunteers in the Tri-Cities area falls to Sarah Sanchez, the area coordinator for the Tri-Cities Area Faith in Action program. Sanchez can be found in her new office at the St. Elizabeth Church on Pontoon Road.
As with many volunteer organizations, needs far exceed resources. There is a long waiting list of those in need and not enough volunteers to provide the help. Prospective volunteers can call Sanchez at (618) 877-3300, ext. 131.