My Catawba County

The Season of Giving

The Season of Giving

Serving Catawba: Volunteerism, Philanthropy, Community Impact
In this season of giving, we thought it fitting to shine a spotlight on community service in Catawba County as shared through the perspectives of people directly involved in making a difference. The following first-person stories were gathered by members of The Chamber’s Leadership Catawba Class of 2020 as part of their Serving Catawba: Volunteerism, Philanthropy, Community Impact project and provided to us to share.

First up: Fostering Hope Catawba Valley donor Lorissa Vines shares how one small ask made a world of difference for local teens in need. Fostering Hope Catawba Valley is a nonprofit working to support the physical, emotional and social needs of children in foster care. The photo accompanying this post was provided by Lorissa and shows her husband sitting among the donations they helped collect.

My huband has served our community as a foster care social worker for 20 years, so it’s no surprise that when I discovered Fostering Hope Catawba Valley, I really connected with their mission.

We both believe in serving our community, so when my husband was recognized with a promotion to foster care supervisor, I knew the perfect way to celebrate this milestone. We invited our friends to join us in supporting Fostering Hope Catawba Valley by donating items to fill baskets for teens in the foster care system residing at Sipe’s Orchard Home. 

I have never been so overwhelmed with gratitude! When asked for their support, our amazing friends delivered in the most generous way! We enjoyed an evening of food and fellowship, surrounded by mounds of linens, personal care products, and cleaning products for teens in need. The sheer quantity of goods that entered our home brought tears of joy to my eyes.

To choose to give. To do your part to make this world a better place. It means so much to know that you are making a difference.  “Thank you for the chance to pass a blessing on to those who need it,” “for giving us this opportunity,” “for allowing us to be part of this event.”  These comments made my heart so happy. 

The need is great, and the support of the community is critical. We chose to be part of the village – standing behind foster children, foster families, and the agencies who are doing this important work in our community.

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In the following story, Carolina Caring service recipient, volunteer and donor Kelley Jarrett shares why she gives back to the community through the nonprofit organization that served her family so well. Carolina Caring works to comfort, uplift and care for individuals challenged by serious illness.

Hospice provided so much for my family. My mother and father passed away within eight months of one another. Both were served by Carolina Caring, whose presence was so impactful. The staff of Carolina Caring interacted with us with such intuition, supporting not only my parents, but my siblings and me as well.

As difficult as it was to lose my parents, hospice care made our world better. I love and appreciate Carolina Caring’s mission of providing tender, professional care at such an important time in life. After I accepted the compassionate support offered to me, I became intentional about wanting to pay it forward. I hope that I, too, can provide love and support to someone in need - to be one of the helpers and compassionate beings that serve our community through the important work of Carolina Caring.

I have chosen through the years to volunteer and to donate to this organization that means a lot to my family and needs to be maintained in our community. As a volunteer, I am called to visit patients and their families. I have a heart for providing companionship and respite. It is an honor to support each family I serve and a privilege to have the opportunity to know them. I learn so much from them, leaving each home feeling grateful and appreciative for my time in their presence.

As a donor, I feel that each gift I make is meaningful. I want Carolina Caring to continue to be there for those facing serious illness and nearing the end of life including the most vulnerable among us, those without insurance. This care is made possible by donations made in our community. I am also delighted when given the opportunity to help grant a patient’s last wish.

Serving Catawba County through Carolina Caring continues to be an honor and a privilege.

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Next up: Deborah Crawford’s story about volunteering for the Western Piedmont Symphony, a nonprofit which has provided symphonic performances and music education to the region for more than 50 years. As a Symphony volunteer, Deborah has helped make a difference for the Symphony and the community by establishing the Symphony’s volunteer corps.

When I retired from the medical field, I knew that I wanted to change hats. I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that allowed for creative, artistic expression. I found my place at the Western Piedmont Symphony.

Western Piedmont Symphony pulls our community together through concerts, events, community outreach programs, and the youth symphony. Music is a universal language. We are all different, yet we are connected by music.

I started by volunteering a couple days per week to assist with clerical tasks. I quickly earned the trust of the Executive Director, and she asked if I would like to take on the role of volunteer coordinator.  I devoted myself to this role for two seasons, giving approximately 90 hours of my time per month.

In February 2018, I was the symphony’s only regular volunteer. Since then, a whole volunteer community has developed. We call them the Temp-O’s. This core group of micro-volunteers has given more than 3,000 hours of service. The Temp-O’s have accomplished so much – ushering patrons, scanning tickets, baking deserts, decorating for events, organizing storage areas, stuffing envelopes, building shelves, and much more!

Together, the staff, the musicians and the many Temp-O volunteers promote our community through what we all have in common, OUR Western Piedmont Symphony. I feel so proud when the lights go down and another performance begins. It’s thrilling!

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In the following story, PACE@Home employee Amanda Justus shares what inspired her to get involved in gerontology, which ultimately led her to giving back at PACE. PACE@Home is a managed care and health care service delivery nonprofit that works to help older adults remain in their homes.

My grandmother suffered a massive stoke, which left her paralyzed on her left side. In an instant, she became totally dependent on others. My family cared for my grandmother for 11 years prior to her passing. When we became caregivers, this allowed my grandmother to remain at home, where she wanted to be.

In caring for my grandmother, I found my passion – helping older adults to age in place. I studied gerontology and pursued my interest in home and community-based services for older adults.

This journey led me to PACE@Home. From the beginning, I felt connected to PACE’s mission and was intrigued by their concept of all-inclusive healthcare for older adults. I was there when PACE@Home opened their doors in January 2012, and I continue to find fulfillment in providing life-changing impact for older adults and their family members who are caregivers.

When I meet older adults and their caregivers, many are discouraged. If it were not for enrolling in PACE@Home services, they would not be able to remain in their communities in their own homes.  PACE@Home offers older adults hope by helping them make the best out of the difficult circumstances they are facing. Being able to come to the Day Health Center gives participants a new purpose and relieves the high levels of stress that caregivers are experiencing. Participants develop friendships and work toward their personal goals. This allows them to make the best of their situation and improves their quality of life.

I know that PACE@Home is making an impact in our community. I see gratitude in the smiles of the participants we serve. I hear gratitude in the voice of the family members who are serving as caregivers.  I feel gratitude in the hugs and handshakes that I receive.

As I offer compassion to those I serve, many times I become extended family.

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In this last story, PACE@Home employee Betsy Ellington shares how her work at the nonprofit makes a difference for older adults with medical challenges in our community.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I have served adults with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and the medically fragile for the past thirty plus years. My goal is to help people live their lives to the best of their ability. My work seems to have always led me to support people in the community versus institutionalized settings. PACE-at-Home, where I am the director of the Social Work Department, is a unique model of care that affords this opportunity.

Significant changes in one’s health during the waning years of life can be stressful. PACE-at-Home helps ease the stress associated with this life transition. A team of health professionals provide personalized medical care and coordination, occupational and physical therapy, nutritional, dietary, recreation, transportation, and social work services. Most people want to maintain their social connections, autonomy and stay in their home, yet health problems during the later years decrease their social circle and typical life supports. Caregivers want to help their parents, yet they are managing multiple life roles and find themselves overburdened. For some, this phase of life can be overwhelming.

Our mission is to partner with individuals and families by providing managed medical care in the community as an alternative to the nursing home option. Our day services allow patients to come home at the end of the day with a sense of purpose and a feeling of connection to something other than their health problems. As a social worker, I help them navigate this phase of life by problem solving, providing counseling, advocacy, and emotional support. The support translates into knowing service options, that they will receive care and are not alone in this journey. The rewards include a smile on their face, an improved sense of well- being, a voiced feeling of belonging and contentment knowing they can remain in their home and as close to their desired way of life as their circumstances allow. It is an honor to serve the community through PACE-at-Home.

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