Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Fayette seeking volunteers, donations to serve the elderly | Helping the Helpers

Jeff Rowan, a volunteer with Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Fayette, helps out client Susan Swauger (Photo via the Uniontown Herald-Standard)

By Mark Hofmann

UNIONTOWN, Pa. — Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused fundraisers for Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Fayette to be canceled, the organization’s volunteers are still serving the needs of those in the community.

(Capital-Star file)

The nonprofit started in 1991 when Trinity United Presbyterian Church of Uniontown developed a senior ministries program to meet the needs of the elderly living in high rises in the area.

The program grew, and incorporated other congregations in the area, creating an interfaith network of trained volunteers to provide supportive services and outreach to meet the needs of the elderly.

“The basic thing is to keep them in their own homes,” said Carol Ashton, the executive director of the organization. “Our mission statement is maintaining older adults in their own home with dignity and independence by people of faith.”

Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers provides free services to the elderly in the county like medical transportation, grocery shopping, helping with correspondences, balancing checkbooks, taking pets to the veterinarian, telephone reassurances, minor home repairs if they own their own homes and more.

In the early days of the pandemic, Ashton said they had to shut down for two weeks and lay off two employees, but their volunteers continued services like medical transportation and grocery shopping for their clients.

However, for both the clients and the volunteers, there was fear on both sides of being infected with COVID-19 so social distancing and other guidelines were practiced.

Even though services continued for the non-profit, COVID-19 restrictions caused a significant financial blow as they had to cancel annual fundraisers like their dance, golf scramble and style show.

Ashton said they’re in need of volunteers as the organization’s board members have been going out to help pick up the work. She noted Pennsylvania has the second-highest number of elderly in the nation.

“This is an opportunity to put their faith in action,” Ashton said, adding they’ve been reaching out to more congregations for volunteer help. “Blessed by blessing others are great blessings that come back.”

Ashton said volunteers can do as much or as little as they want, adding that medical transportation is the biggest volunteer need, and most of the transportation is local.

The organization is also looking for monetary donations. Ashton said a $5 donation can equal three hours of service for elderly in the area.

Mark Hofmann is a reporter for the Uniontown Herald-Standard, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story is being simultaneously published. Readers may email him at [email protected]