Helping Older People Remain Independent

Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers (IVCG) has been serving older individuals and their families in the region for over 30 years.

Imagine what it must feel like to be unable to run basic errands or visit friends or family on your own. How difficult it must be to know that your health depends on seeing your doctor, yet you are unable to get to medical appointments. How upsetting it is to have your home and the independence you cherish threatened by the consequences of aging.

Fortunately, aging adults in Greater New Haven are assisted in maintaining their vitality, joy and independence through the support of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers (IVCG). The nonprofit has been serving elders in the region for over 30 years. By educating and uniting individuals from religious and civic groups, the small nonprofit has established a core of volunteers who assist adults over age 60 through friendly visits and transportation services. Their efforts amount to approximately 500 hours of free services delivered to residents every month.

Volunteers with IVCG prepare Thanksgiving meals for delivery to elderly residents.

This past Thanksgiving, through a partnership with the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (among other area organizations), IVCG delivered 829 traditional holiday meals to area elders. The project utilized the assistance of 400 volunteers all working together to ensure that older individuals throughout the community experienced love and connection during the holiday.

Although this annual event magnifies the organization's impact, its true value is in the day-to-day services provided. Services that affect both the individuals who are directly touched, as well as the family members of those individuals, who struggle to meet their aging loved ones' needs.

"Your agency single-handedly gave my mother a reason to keep living when all the obstacles became too much," wrote Marilyn in a letter to IVCG on behalf of her mother, Ester. Marilyn noted that Ester was initially reluctant to have a volunteer visit her New Haven home. But after meeting her volunteer match, Gary, a deep bond formed. Over six years Gary visited Ester regularly, and as Marilyn shared, Gary became Ester's "last and greatest friend." He was her "angel" who brought her joy in her final years.

Another individual who benefited from IVCG services thanked the organization for assistance in obtaining medical treatment:

"I'm thankful beyond my ability to express. I don't know what would have happened if IVCG had not jumped in to get it done against all obstacles. Your mission is a blessing in ways you can't imagine until you have experienced the uncertainty and insecurity of chronic illness. I should be back in action in a week or so and I have you to thank for that gift."

In addition to the compassionate aid provided by IVCG, their services result in valuable cost savings for the community.

"An hour or two of volunteer time can deflect a costly move to a health care facility, a move which is ultimately paid for by taxpayers," explained Kate Walton, Executive Director of IVCG.

IVCG is supported through the generosity of individual donations as well as grants from funders like The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Grants from The Community Foundation have been awarded from funds including the Partnership for Aging and Ophelia funds.

For more on how you can assist IVCG by volunteering or making a charitable contribution, please visit the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers® profile.

Did You Know?

The Connecticut Legislative Commission on Aging reports that the number of residents age 65 and older is expected to grow by 57% between 2010 and 2040.

Source: "Living in an Aging Connecticut," Connecticut Legislative Commission on Aging.