Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Helps Seniors Age in Place

Neighbor-helping-neighbor model supports independent living.

Inter-agency cooperation with Master's Manna in Wallingford to obtain much needed medical equipment. Photo courtesy of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers.

Most older Americans hope to remain in their homes as they age. Losing the ability to drive, however, can interrupt those plans. The cost and logistics of getting to medical appointments or the grocery store can become unmanageable and ultimately force a move into an assisted living or nursing home. Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Greater New Haven gives seniors an option to live with independence.

For nearly four decades, the nonprofit has employed a volunteer-based neighbor-helping-neighbor model that provides rides to medical appointments and grocery delivery services for seniors. It also offers recycled medical and therapy equipment free to anyone. Collectively, the free services fill a big gap for people in need.

The free car service to medical appointments would otherwise cost $100 or more, according to Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Executive Director Jane Farrell. The organization annually provides about $500,000 worth of free driving service, Farrell added.

“Volunteer caregiving is a way to multiply the impact in the community. The value of the direct services is immeasurable,” said Farrell.

We really appreciate it when people think of us. It helps people with their peace of mind. It helps give them a little closure.

Jane Farrell / Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers

During normal operations, Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers matches volunteer drivers with seniors who need rides. The COVID-19 pandemic decimated the volunteer corps, however, forcing the nonprofit to hire drivers to cover shifts. Now that people are resuming routine medical care, Farrell said, demand is high.

“It has really ramped up,” Farrell said. “Somebody who went into the pandemic needing a cavity filled came out needing a root canal. A lot of our clients prefer not to do a virtual visit. They really want to see their doctor.”

The demand, coupled with the loss of volunteers at the start of the pandemic means that the organization is in great need of more volunteers.

Do you want to volunteer as a medical driver?

The men of Pi Kappa Phi (Quinnipiac University) turned out bright & early on a Saturday morning to help Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers move into a new facility. Photo courtesy of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers.

Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers was recently supported by the COVID-19 Community Fund and the Small Grants Program. The funding helped pay for renovations to a basement space for a medical equipment lending bank, storage and routing center.

Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers runs Mae’s Closet, which provides free recycled medical equipment by appointment at locations in Greater New Haven. The organization is also one of the only suppliers of free adult incontinence products in the state.

Learn more about and support Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Greater New Haven.

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Farrell said that most of their supplies are donated by people who are cleaning out the house of a recently deceased family member.

“We really appreciate it when people think of us,” said Farrell. “It helps people with their peace of mind. It helps give them a little closure.”

Did you Know?

Data shows that 77 percent of adults 50 and older want to remain in their homes for the long term — a number that has been consistent for more than a decade. Source: AARP

Do you have a long-term interest in supporting local health nonprofits or other causes you care about? Learn about charitable funds at The Community Foundation.