The 2018 hurricane season has been extraordinarily active in parts of the U.S., with Hurricane Florence currently impacting millions in the Carolinas. As this natural disaster unfolds, the staff here at VolunteerMatch is doing its part to ensure that, if you are in an affected community, you are prepared and safe. And if you are looking to help with disaster relief efforts, you know about the most effective ways to contribute.
Partners in Care uses a service-exchange concept as the foundation for its network of support for seniors in and around the Annapolis, Maryland area. The objective is to build community by engaging people to help each other with the myriad tasks involved in everyday living. Neighbors volunteer their time and talent to help seniors live with dignity and independence.
Thirty years ago and thousands of miles away, Joyce Cavey made a promise to one day give back and make a difference.
She was living with her husband in Mogadishu, Somalia, where he had been assigned by his company. One day Joyce saw two young men walking with twin beds balanced on their heads.
It was a flash of insight into what life might be like without real options. “They were looking for a place to put their beds down for the night to sleep,” she recalled. “Something changed in my heart.”
It took Cavey more than three decades to make due on her pledge. In between she built a career as a journalist and freelance writer in Houston, Texas, before eventually moving to the Annapolis, Maryland, area in 2000.
Moving to Maryland was a new stage in life for Cavey, and the perfect time to begin working towards the promise she’d made so long before.
Cavey took on a role at a local nonprofit writing grant proposals to raise money for missionary projects of compassion throughout the world. But when her boss decided to leave for a mission, she found herself looking for a new job. Around the same time, she kept running into the president of Partners In Care.
Coincidence? Not to Cavey. “All those meetings were no accident,” Cavey recalled. “It was my time to keep the promise to myself.”
Cavey eventually joined the organization as an AmeriCorps volunteer coordinator through a program sponsored by Volunteer Maryland. A year later, she was hired to the permanent staff and made responsible for organizing volunteer transportation as well as communications and PR.
Partners In Care has over 100 volunteers who provide between 60 and 70 rides each week. Most of the volunteers are over the age of 55. Over the years, the organization has received over three dozen referrals from VolunteerMatch users.
Carey’s new role at Partners in Care owes a lot to her background in writing. She says she has a simple approach: Let your heart do the talking.
”Concepts are fine, but people become inspired to volunteer when they hear true stories about the people you help,” she said.
One of Partners In Care’s strongest selling points is the organization’s innovative service-exchange/time-banking model. Volunteers actually earn credit hours they can either bank and use later, donate to another person, or deposit into the general account.
Even though she works full-time, Cavey continues to volunteer for the agency, too. One of Cavey’s memorable experiences involved an elderly gentleman who wanted a ride to the dry cleaners.
“He was all dressed up with a shirt and tie and nice sweater because it was one of the few times he was able to get out of the house,” she remembered. “The cleaners were only about six blocks away but it may as well have been on the moon because he couldn’t drive or walk there.”
The man was afraid if he dropped off his clothes and didn’t pick them up as soon as they were ready, the cleaner might give them away. Fortunately, the owner reassured him his clothes were safe.
“He was so happy and relieved,” said Cavey. “All the way back he kept saying, ‘Miss Joyce you made my day.’”