Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers, A Faith in Action Program 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. This team provided 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 2001 Caregivers developed and implemented two new programs. 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 2003, the board of directors acknowledged the need to have public recognition of our involvement with the national Faith in Action program. To achieve this, Caregivers officially changed their name to include Faith in Action. In keeping with meeting un-met 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.
A succession of directors, including Ann Miller, Bob Machovec, Beth Rule, Dyan Pennington, and Nancy Sutton has led Caregivers to increasingly active community involvement. Transportation Coordinator Susan Davies, Volunteer Coordinator Jo-Ann Hoovler, and Carolyn Embrey, Money Management/Pet Therapy Coordinator have provided consistent quality service to our clients. During 2004 Caregivers volunteers provided over 7,000 services to residents of Loudoun needing our help. Currently over 270 volunteers are improving the quality of life for many in Loudoun County. In ways that were impossible in the past, 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 un-met needs of frail elderly and disabled adults by using a coalition of volunteers from faith communities, service organizations, and the community at large to sustain quality independent living for adults in need of support.