Worship Respite Care at The Gathering Place
Offering caregivers support for spiritual nurture through education, advocacy and training within their respective houses of worship to encourage the provision of worship respite care for loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related disorders.
About the Worship Respite Care Program
The Worship Respite Care Program was developed in response to the wishes of caregivers of loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related diseases who longed to return to their respective houses of worship while being reassured that their loved ones were being compassionately cared for during the time-frame of traditional religious services on the weekend.
As dementia-related diseases progress to a point where attendance at houses of worship with affected loved ones is no longer possible, caregivers have shared the pain and frustration of their increasing sense of isolation from their faith communities at precisely the time when the stress of care-giving was accelerating, and their need for spiritual solace and the support of fellow members of their religious communities, greater than ever.
A group of representatives from local houses of worship, led by Pastor Deborah Hafner DeWinter, the pastor of First Lutheran Church in Poughkeepsie, formed a Worship Respite Care Task Force, together with representatives of the Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley Chapter, the Dutchess County Office for the Aging, The Lutheran Care Center, and the Dutchess County Interfaith Council to explore ways to address this identified need in our community. Together they began a planning process towards developing a local respite care program available during the traditional times of worship.
The first phase of the Worship Respite Care program involved a pilot project offering on-site respite care on Friday evenings, Saturday mornings and Sunday mornings facilitated by paid staff together with trained volunteers, housed through the generosity of The Lutheran Care Network at The Lutheran Care Center. Supported in part by a generous grant from the New York State Department of Health in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley Chapter, and partner houses of worship, this pilot project, which operated for seven months (October, 2016-April, 2017) on an experimental basis, welcomed applications from people of all faiths and was offered without charge to participants.
While those who were enrolled in the program were deeply appreciative, the WRC Task Force encountered a key barrier to encouraging greater numbers of program participants. First and foremost, it was found that caregivers were seriously challenged to provide transportation to and from the Worship Respite Care site. Those who expressed a desire to have their loved ones participate felt overwhelmed by the realities of readying their loved ones, introducing them to a new and unfamiliar environment, and finding the time and energy to provide transportation to the site, then to their houses of worship, back to the site to pick up their loved ones, and finally home again. Without sufficient participants, the program no longer qualified for New York State funding as of May, 2017.
Feeling a deep commitment to be of support to those who have appreciated the provision of respite care during the traditional times of worship, the Worship Respite Care Task Force met on May 26, 2017 to re-evaluate needs, to re-visit the core mission, and to re-vision a more practical response to the needs of caregivers wishing to stay connected to their houses of worship.
A decision was made to continue the concept under an education, advocacy and mentoring model in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley Chapter, rather than a respite care program provision model at a specific program site. Utilizing the excellent training module developed and facilitated by the Hudson Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and the needs of caregivers, the Worship Respite Care Task Force will develop an educational program available to local houses of worship.
It is envisioned that the first half of the program will include the educational training module on Alzheimer’s disease developed by the Alzheimer’s Association. The second half of the program will be presented by members of the WRC Task, to assist area congregations to recognize the needs of their own members who are 24/7 caregivers of loved ones with dementia.
WRC Task Force members and trained WRC volunteers will help to equip and mentor local houses of worship to develop their own plan for offering on-site respite care by trained volunteers within respective congregations during the traditional times of worship.
Alternately, some caregivers may prefer to have trained volunteers from within their houses of worship provide respite care in their own homes. Under this scenario, the caregiver would be able to attend worship and receive spiritual support while their loved ones are provided respite care by members of their own congregations in the comfort of a familiar home environment.
Next steps in developing Phase II of the Worship Respite Care program include the following:
- June – July, 2017 – A new WRC brochure will be drafted to describe the Phase II program; clients from the Phase I program will be notified of the closing of the pilot program and provided an overview of the Phase II program (to include our offer to come to their houses of worship to implement Phase II goals); major donors (including partner houses of worship) will be contacted to decide how they wish any remaining funds they had donated to WRC to be dispersed (either returned to them, or shared between the Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley Chapter and The Lutheran Care Center’s Adult Day Health Center); all WRC partners will be briefed on these developments
- August 24, 2017 – The entire WRC Task Force will receive training from Meg Boyce, the Vice President for Programs & Services, Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley Chapter
- September, October, November, 2017 – WRC Task Force Members will form teams of two, taking responsibility for offering the new WRC training/education program to specific houses of worship. As requested, members of the WRC Task Force and trained WRC volunteers will be available to mentor volunteers in area houses of worship who wish to develop worship respite care programs for their own members (either on site or in the homes of caregivers)
- December 2017 – The WRC Task Force will evaluate Phase II implementation and make recommendations for the future of the WRC program.
The WRC Task Force will continue meeting on a monthly basis to monitor progress and make adjustments, accordingly.
For More Information on the WRC program, please contact:
Rev. Deborah Hafner DeWinter
Worship Respite Care Program Director
c/o First Evangelical Lutheran Church
325 Mill Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
845-452-6050 (Church office)
With Heartfelt Thanks!
Donations of New Leather and Vinyl Recliners
To date, The Gathering Place has received 10 of the 12 recliners requested due to the generosity of: Diane Wood-Miller, Davis Furniture, Millspaugh Furniture, Freight Liquidators, and Bob’s Furniture Charitable Foundation. Heartfelt thanks to WRC volunteer Bob Cohen of St. John’s Lutheran Church for coordinating the recliner project.
Friend & Fund-Raisers
A BBQ chicken dinner was held on August 13, 2016 – one of the hottest evenings of the summer – at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie. Thank you to all who worked tirelessly in the heat to produce such a hearty meal – and many thanks to those who dined in and ordered takeaways to support the WRC program. Special presentations about the Worship Respite Care program were made by Task Force Chair Susan Achieng-Jenkins and Director Rev. Deborah Hafner DeWinter.
A festive day of stitchery, fellowship and food raised $1,000 through the successful day-long “Stitch-In” hosted by The Pawling House Bed & Breakfast on July 12, 2016, and attended by women affiliated with several member houses of worship and friends of the Worship Respite Care program.
Our gratitude to all the volunteers from the WRC Task Force and from partner houses of worship and supportive organizations who took part in the Painting Party and general sprucing up of the Adult Day Health Center at the Lutheran Care Center – site of The Gathering Place – the weekend of March 5-6, 2016. Special thanks to Habitat for Humanity – Dutchess County for their donation of paint, and to Darwin Swain for donations of equipment and expertise.
A hearty thanks to the faithful First Evangelical Lutheran Church quilters who donated new quilted lap quilts and chair seat covers for the recliners donated to the Adult Day Health Center, and to Frieda Popp, Linda Brewer and Renate Grosshans who coordinated this effort.
Thanks also to Freedom Plains United Presbyterian Church for hosting a friend & fund-raising dinner on October 17, 2015, complete with a festive band and dancing! Meg Boyce, Vice President, Programs & Services of the Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley NY Chapter, Susan Achieng-Jenkins, Director of the Adult Health Program at The Lutheran Care Center, and Rev. Deborah Hafner DeWinter, Pastor of First Evangelical Lutheran Church and Director of the WRC Program, were the guest speakers for the evening. Pastor Heather Finck, WRC Task Force member and Associate Pastor at Freedom Plains, provided introductions.
Painting Party at The Gathering Place
Thanks to all the volunteers from Worship Respite Care partner houses of worship and organizations who took part in sprucing up the Adult Day Care Center at The Lutheran Care Center – site of The Gathering Place – the weekend of March 5 & 6, 2016. Special thanks to Habitat for Humanity for their donation of paint; and to Darin Swain for donations of equipment, and expertise!
First Lutheran Quilters
Thanks to the faithful First Evangelical Lutheran Church quilters who have undertaken to make 12 new lap quilts for the recliners being donated for use at The Gathering Place.
Worship Respite Care Partners
Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley,
Rockland/Westchester, NY Chapter
Dutchess County Interfaith Council
Dutchess County Office for the Aging
First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Poughkeepsie
The Lutheran Care Center
The Lutheran Care Network
Robert Irving Miller, ESQ, Sholes & Miller LLP
Parish Nurse Network of Dutchess County
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Poughkeepsie
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Poughkeepsie
The Reformed Dutch Church of Poughkeepsie
Steven B. Jones, Thrivent Financial
Freedom Plains United Presbyterian Church
First Congregational Church of Poughkeepsie
Worship Respite Care Task Force Members
Susan Achieng-Jenkins, Chair
Daphne Barrett, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Meg Boyce, Alzheimer’s Association – Hudson Valley
Linda Brewer, First Evangelical Lutheran Church
Jan Burnett, Freedom Plains United Presbyterian Church
Clare Chapman, Dutchess County Interfaith Council
Sydney Coleman, Central Baptist
Nancy Compton, First Evangelical Lutheran Church
FaLisia Cotton, VA Hudson Valley Castle Point
Rev. Heather Finck, Freedom Plains United Presbyterian Church
Rev. Deborah Hafner DeWinter, First Evangelical Lutheran Church
Judith Henkel, First Evangelical Lutheran Church
Margaret Kwet, Dutchess County Office for the Aging
Rev. Heather Moody, First Congregational United Church of Christ
Janice Viola, St. John’s Lutheran Church