In 1991, a coalition was formed in Shiawassee County to assess the need for a Volunteer Respite program to be established. Our original coalition included staff from Memorial Healthcare Home Health and Hospice, Catholic Dioceses of Lansing, Shiawassee Council on Aging, Shiawassee Community Mental Health, Catholic Charities, Department of Human Services, The Arc of Shiawassee, area faith leaders, persons who were caregivers, and volunteers. Many local senior service agencies assisted in developing and distributing the needs assessments to plan our services.
Respite Volunteers of Shiawassee, Inc., was established March 1993. We used The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Faith-in-Action model.
The first director was hired part time and the program and volunteer training manual began. At first, the program grew gradually, in fact in 1998 (five years after we were established) only 14 patients were being served per month. Presently we are consistently serving up to 100 patients a month. In 2020, we served 249 families and to date have served 2,441 families since it began in 1993.
Our mission statement is “A gift of time and caring support to adults with persistent health needs and their families.” We continue to emphasize the importance of recruiting and training new volunteers to help fulfill the demand for respite services. These additional volunteers help shorten our waiting list and increase the number of patients we are able to serve in a timely manner.