Donors Play a Pivotal Role in Funding Elder Care
As our society embraces the concept of aging in place, we’re also creating a sizable population of families in need of caregiving assistance. Someone is attending to an aging parent, spouse or another adult in one of every four households and many are seeking affordable elder care help from reputable providers. Individual, corporate and foundation support makes it possible for the VNA to lend a hand — and nowhere is the impact of donor gifts more evident than at Friendship House, our social adult day care center.
The center is unique among VNA’s services because it does not provide home-based care. In fact, its goal is to alleviate the isolation often associated with being homebound for elderly and disabled area residents with cognitive and physical limitations. There, seniors who require supervision and practical assistance rediscover the joy of companionship and the satisfaction of participating in fun, therapeutic activities while loved ones who serve as 24/7 caregivers are afforded the peace-of-mind to focus on other tasks or take a much-deserved break.
A Network of Support for Program Essentials
Since the VNA saved Friendship House from closure in 2004 after acquiring the center from another nonprofit agency that was in financial distress, it has steadily enhanced enhanced its size and caliber.
For several years, grants from the Dircks Foundation have ensured that clients are served healthy lunches through the Meals on Wheels program. Meals on Wheels provides a variety of nutritional food and eliminates the need for staff to spend time sourcing and preparing food, allowing them to focus more attention on engaging with Friendship House clients.
The proceeds from annual fundraisers held for more than a decade by TWIG 21, a Morris area branch of a philanthropic group with chapters in several states, have been instrumental in the purchase of program supplies, electronics equipment and furnishings. In 2012, the generous donations made by the members of TWIG 21 funded the purchase of a color printer and die-cutting machine to produce bright, festive materials for activities and seasonal craft projects that keep clients engaged in holidays and traditions, as well as an iPAD used to access games and puzzles that help preserve cognitive function.
The sustained support of other organizations and individuals including the Morris County Master Gardeners and Creature Comfort Pet Therapy who donate their time and special skills make it feasible for the center to offer tabletop gardening, pet therapy and other enjoyable activities that are appropriate for the skill level of clients.
Individualized Aid Ensures Access to Everyone
VNA doesn’t turn away clients who would benefit from attendance at Friendship House. The staff is adept at working with caregivers to help those who cannot afford modest program fees to determine eligibility for various resources. Full or part-time attendance options are available through the Morris County Office on Aging Services and New Jersey State Respite Care Programs, the Alzheimer’s and Brain Injury Associations, FM Kirby Foundation and the United Way of Northern New Jersey. After gaining an understanding of each family’s situation, it’s not uncommon for the VNA to facilitate access to assistance that includes part-time attendance at Friendship House and a few hours of in-home certified home health aide services each week or other forms of respite.
“Friendship House is a wonderful example of how our VNA serves as the catalyst that brings together those with a shared commitment to elder care and mobilizes community resources to deliver meaningful solutions,” observed Mayelin Ravelo, Manager of Community Services, who supervises all activities at the center.