Highland County Volunteer Organization Formed To Assist Caregivers

There’s no question that taking on the role of a caregiver for an ill or ailing family member is a noble undertaking, allowing that loved one to stay in the comfort of familiar surroundings and people during their time of sickness. There’s also no question that it is an exhausting task, which can take it’s toll mentally and physically on the caregiver. A new volunteer organization which seeks to provide relief has been formed to serve Highland County

Highland County Respite Care and Support Services, or HCRC for short, is headed by residents Sharon Hevener and Kathy Solomon. Ms. Solomon talked about the services the group offers, and how it began.

“Our service is intended for the caregivers in our community, and for our purposes, we define caregivers as someone who is providing care for a family member or a friend who is in need of care because of recuperating from surgery, or has an illness, a chronic illness or even a terminal illness. Sharon and I started talking about hospice care and respite care, probably several years ago, but we really got serious about talking about it last year. Our first step was to find out if we can even do this. So we contacted the Virginia Director of Hospice and Panitive Care, her name is Brenda Clarkson. We met with her and picked her brain, told her what we were thinking of, and could we have a volunteer hospice or respite care, without the medical piece, since we don’t have that currently in Highland County, and she was very encouraging, said of course we can, and through emails gave us all the information we needed, people to contact, and that’s how we got in touch with the director of Mountain Regional Hospice in Clifton Forge, Brenda Lindsay. Once in touch with Dr. Lindsay, she was very supportive, and said that if we got a group of volunteers, that we could bring them there, to her, and she would provide the four days of training.”

“so I would say we got started the end of last year. We opened our first family last week, so we have one of our volunteers out there working, and we have, I think, maybe three more families that we’ve heard of, so we’re going to be pursuing that.”

There are currently 8 volunteers capable of assisting caregivers, and Ms. Hevener spoke about the training they had received.

“Each of the eight volunteers have all gone through four days of hospice training. We will not be doing any kind of medication or actual care of the person, but we will be aware when we do an intake with the family, of the kind of needs that,person might have, so,of something came up, we would be aware, and might be able to help, or know what to do.”

Ms. Hevener also noted that more volunteers are welcomed, and that they can serve in a variety of ways beyond the actual in home assistance.

“We have a number of people in the community, and are looking for more people in the community that want to do other kinds of volunteering, which could be, picking up a piece of equipment to deliver to the home, a walker or a wheelchair – they might make a cake for somebody when it’s their birthday, or send out a birthday card or sympathy card. There’s so many different things that volunteers can do in the community, that we’re hoping people can call is and let us know that they are available if something comes up.”

“We are a not for profit volunteer organization, and donations are welcome, and they are tax,deductible.”

For more information on becoming involved with HCRC, or benefiting from the services it offers, contact Ms. Hevener at 468-3607 or Ms. Solomon at 468-3693.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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