Want to make a difference in our community by providing empathic listening and spiritual support for elderly and disabled people who are having difficulty coping with loss of purpose, grief, loneliness, illness, and other challenges? The Spiritual Caregiver Program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) might be for you!
“We have found that many of the problems that our clients face have a strong spiritual dimension that our other care giving programs, including mental health, cannot address well,” said Loretta Saint-Louis, the coordinator of the program. “For the most part, the care receivers we serve are homebound and not connected with any faith community, although they may have been at an earlier time in their life. They come from many different backgrounds. Our program, which is interfaith, also draws volunteers from a wide variety of faith backgrounds– including people who are spiritual but not religious.”
“The common thread among the volunteers is that they care about others and are committed to providing a compassionate and attentive spiritual presence for people who need it,” she added.
Spiritual Caregiver Volunteers begin the program with a 50 hour training for four to five months. The training helps to build caregiving skills and the knowledge base for the particular challenges the clients face. Once trained, the coordinator of the program matches volunteers with care receivers, for weekly home visits. Bimonthly meetings of the volunteer group at the Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services office provide ongoing support and continuing education. Because of the strong investment in training, volunteers are required to make a two year commitment to the program.
The Spiritual Caregiver Program is now taking applications for the next 50-hour training, which starts in September. Saint-Louis acknowledged volunteering to be a Spiritual Caregiver isn’t for everyone, but added it can be very rewarding.
“We really need people who have a desire to serve others and whose spiritual beliefs and practices have helped them endure difficult challenges of life,” said St. Louis. “It’s a unique opportunity to grow spiritually, by learning from each other.”
The deadline to apply for the Spiritual Caregiver Program has been extended to September 7. For more information, or to apply, contact Loretta Saint-Louis at 617-628-2601 ext. 3173 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit eldercare.org, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.