August 22, 2018
New Beginnings in the Year of We
By Wendy Liverant

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:18

Starting a program ministry to fill a community need is no easy task. But, if it’s truly a labor of love, that love is contagious, a fact you soon realize in the words and actions of others supportive of your mission. This is where I find myself now, having taken on the challenge of starting an interfaith respite care program, Respite Care Atlanta, Inc. on April 23, 2018. This program is designed to serve community care-giving families who are sharing the dementia journey with their loved ones; often reconfiguring their own lives based on the growing demands of a progressive disease. This, too, is a labor of love for those who choose to provide the comfort and familiarity of home for a spouse, parent, sibling, adult child, friend or neighbor.

Respite Care Atlanta is proud to call Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church our home. We have a beautiful space shared with its Youth Ministry and the adjacent outdoor spaces that will surely come to life in the weeks and months ahead. The community outreach and support for our mission is growing yet, Second-Ponce has been there from day one. Jeff Miller, Church Administrator, is a Respite Care Atlanta board member and has deployed his talented staff to work with me and prepare the space for our first “club members.” The tasks are an add-on to their already hefty workloads, so I am extremely appreciative of their dedicated efforts and the smiles exchanged in focusing on the work to be done. We are all growing in this effort to recognize, respond and reconnect with the area’s care-giving families who have become increasingly isolated (and sometimes, stigmatized) with their choice to serve their loved ones in the home.

In my own mind, what the mission of Respite Care Atlanta really speaks to is preserving the family unit. Care-giving families may not always have a choice of care options due to financial resources, cultural traditions and/or honoring the care recipient’s preferences. Whatever the circumstances, they want to serve others and serve well, maintaining compassion, dignity and comfort for those in their care. Often, the primary caregiver neglects their own self-care which presents risks for maintaining their own physical, emotional and mental health. Should their ability to provide care be compromised, a family is quickly thrown into crisis mode and may no longer continue intact. That is why we do what we do.

Respite Care Atlanta exists for both care-givers and loved ones. We will provide a full activity program developed for those with early to mid-stage cognitive impairment and give their devoted care-givers some personal time to refresh their minds, bodies and spirits. For care-giving families and Respite Care Atlanta, our mission is the same: to serve others and in doing so, to serve the Lord by sharing loving kindness to others in need. Respite Care Atlanta is an all-volunteer model of respite care (except for me, as Director). I invite Second-Ponce family members to join us as compassionate volunteers or potential clients for our program. Please register your interest by going to our website (http://respitecareatlanta.org) and completing the online submission form.