Day after day, the volunteers of Rum River Interfaith Caregivers are making a significant difference in the lives of people in Mille Lacs and Sherburne Counties of Minnesota. Within these rural communities exists a strong force whose sole mission is to help people in need. Begun in 1996 because of an unmet need for transportation and respite care, this agency continues to faithfully serve those living in difficult life circumstances. Originally, the focus was to serve the elderly, frail or those living with disabilities. Due to overwhelming requests, the mission was expanded to help all those in need, including families and children.
The volunteers of Rum River Interfaith Caregivers are a light in a dark situation. The woman whose husband has Alzheimer’s disease finds the respite caregiver a welcome relief. A house-bound MS victim and was able to go out-of-doors because a wheel chair ramp was built for him. A compassionate volunteer moved the homeless mother-to-be to a home. Other volunteers drove her to the hospital to give birth providing friendship and reassurance. A woman found painful therapy bearable because of supportive volunteers who provided transportation. A cancer patient discovered coping strategies from a former patient who volunteers.
Volunteers are the heartbeat of this agency. They work tirelessly to help individuals and families who have no other place to turn. In the year 2000, approximately 2000 services were performed. Volunteers, free of charge, gave all these acts of compassion. The formal services are: transportation, respite care, friendly visiting, telephone reassurance, Lifeline installation, home maintenance, business help, office assistance, and cancer support. Other volunteer services include blood pressure checks at senior dining sites, special health projects and board of directors. Each year the number of scope of services increase.
In 1999, Rum River Interfaith Caregivers had 60 volunteers. Today there are 100 with more than 50 volunteers utilized monthly. Continual recruiting occurs in local congregations.