Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers began in 1993, when the Leesburg Presbyterian Church recognized a great community need for faith communities to reach out to elderly and disabled Loudoun County residents. The church called together community and faith community leaders to discuss this need and to talk with the director of the Prince William (Virginia) Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers program about the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers (IVC) model of a community support network.
Following several community meetings, a steering committee was established to form a non-profit corporation using the IVC model and to respond to a request for Faith in Action proposals from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Members of this original committee included: Susan-Jane Stack from the Loudoun County Department of Social Services and St. James United Church of Christ, Beth Rule from the Loudoun County Health Department and Leesburg Presbyterian Church, Harry Brown from Leesburg Presbyterian Church, the Reverend Peter Wuebbens from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Lloyd Hill and Dave Yahnke from St. James Episcopal Church, Hank McCall from Waterford Baptist Church, Jo Ellen Carci from the Loudoun County Area Agency on Aging, and Mary Berger from the Community Services Board.
Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers, Inc. was formally incorporated in 1995. Using a grant from the National Federation of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, the board hired Ann Miller part time to be its first director to assist in the Robert Wood Johnson grant writing process. In July 1995, Robert Wood Johnson awarded a $25,000 Faith in Action grant to Caregivers to establish an IVC in Loudoun County.
With continuing grant funding, fundraising projects, and donations from participating congregations, businesses, clients, volunteers, and friends, Caregivers has grown to be a vital part of the Loudoun County community. In 1998, service organizations were included in the coalition with the Leesburg Lions Club and the Sterling Rotary Club participating in caregiving projects. That same year, Loudoun County awarded its Outstanding Volunteer Team award to a team of Caregiver dialysis drivers led by board member and volunteer Walt Barth. In 1999, another Caregiver team received this same honor for providing daily help for a young woman with multiple sclerosis. In 2005, Caregivers received two awards: the Pet Therapy Team received the award for the Loudoun Volunteer Services Adult team and the full agency received the Loudoun Human Services Network’s “Heart of Loudoun” award for the Outstanding Human Service Agency. In 2017, one of our Family Volunteering teams – Kamala and Mitesh Shrestha, was awarded the Outstanding Family Volunteers of the Year. And in 2018, former staff members (and current volunteers) Denise and Michael Forgione won both the Loudoun County Outstanding Family Unit of the Year AND the VA Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteering Family for 2018.
In March 2001 Caregivers, in partnership with the Area Agency on Aging, formed two support groups for family caregivers of adults with chronic illnesses. September 2001 saw the initial visits by our Pet Therapy Teams. These are teams of volunteers and their dogs who visit adults in non-traditional home environments. Following the events of September 11, 2001 three of our teams provided support and comfort to families of victims of the Pentagon bombing. In keeping with meeting unmet needs of Loudoun’s seniors, two new programs were developed and implemented in 2005. Caregivers began providing transportation to Loudoun residents living with HIV/AIDS to medical and support service appointments and began a personal money management program for low-income seniors who are vulnerable to financial exploitation.
Spring of 2010 saw the creation of our Student Caregivers Program, offering volunteering opportunities to Loudoun Youths ages 12 to 18. These youths provide services to our care receivers while enjoying working together with other youths of various faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds to plan and put on quality of life events for our care receivers. In 2015, the LVC Chore Corps, working in conjunction with the Loudoun Area Agency on Aging, began providing handyman services – minor home repairs and maintenance.
A succession of directors, including Ann Miller, Bob Machovec, Beth Rule, Dyan Pennington, Nancy Sutton, Amy Shelton, and Susan Mandel Giblin, has led Caregivers to increasingly active community involvement. During 2018 Caregivers volunteers provided over 7,500 services to residents of Loudoun needing our help; over 70,000 miles were driven to serve the needs of our care receivers. Currently over 275 volunteers are improving the quality of life for many in Loudoun County. In ways that were impossible in the past, individuals, congregations and service organizations are able to reach out to the community around them with the assurance that Caregivers will support their efforts through client assessment, volunteer training and insurance, client information and referral, and service coordination.
Since 1995, Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers has been meeting the unmet needs of frail elderly and disabled adults by using a coalition of volunteers to sustain quality independent living for adults in need of support. We are planning now for the next 25 years – join us in making a difference in the lives of our elderly and disabled neighbors.