$290K grant will fund respite program for caregivers of older adults

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 23 October 2022 at 7:42 am

United Way, Community Action and YMCA teamed on project

Provided photos: Key players in the new respite care program in Orleans and Genesee counties include Matt Holland, left, grant writer hired by United Way of Orleans County, and Jesse Cudzillo, director of the Orleans YMCA.

A new $290,000 family caregiver initiative will provide respite for caregivers in Genesee and Orleans counties.

Matt Holland, a grant writer with the Orleans County United Way, applied to Exhale, the Family Caregiver Initiative, in April and learned in June the local proposal made it to the last round.

Notification of approval of the grant came recently and will provide funding for a Caregivers’ Revitalize program developed in collaboration with United Way of Orleans County, GLOW YMCA and Community Action of Orleans and Genesee.

Exhale is a Family Caregiver Initiative which funds innovative collaborative projects that are reimagining and increasing respite opportunities for family caregivers of older adults.

Funded by the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, and managed by the Philanthropic Initiative, the 2022 Exhale initiative involves a total of more than 60 partner organizations across Western New York and Washtenaw County, Mich. They will work in teams led by the 13 grantees, including United Way of Orleans County.

“Exhale, the Family Care Initiative, has approved Caregivers Revitalize for three years of programming, with a budget of $290,000,” Holland said. “The first two years, beginning in the winter of 2023, will utilize the YMCA in Medina and Main Street Store location in Albion, while a third expansion year will create three new respite locations – one at the Holley Community Center, another at Genesee County YMCA’s Healthy Living Campus in Batavia and a third location to be determined in Genesee County.”

Caregivers Revitalize will provide weekly, three-hour long respite sessions along with free, onsite wellness programming and activities for caregivers of aging family members.

Grant writer Matt Holland, left, poses with Community Action personnel who will be involved in the new respite grant. With him are Katrina Chaffee, director of community services and reporting; Renee Hungerford, Community Action’s executive director; and Cassandra Eagle, Thrift Store manager and classroom instructor.

Locations will alternate initially on a weekly basis between the YMCA and Main Street Store.

“This program is an excellent opportunity for our community’s caregivers to get a break from their daily schedule and utilize the amazing programs and locations provided by the YMCA and Community Action,” Holland said. “Whether it is getting time to hop on a treadmill, participate in communal activities with other caregivers or just get some alone time, Caregivers Revitalize will provide a variety of respite opportunities for our community’s caregivers.”

There are still some program details that are still being worked out as Holland drafts the work plan and contracts.

The program will employ a part-time program coordinator and caregiver with certified nursing qualifications and caregiving experience. Caregivers can visit one of these locations during a respite session and utilize free programming and services provided by each organization, while a trained caregiver and onsite staffing will provide supervision and activities for caregivers and the family members in their care.

“We are proud to have the opportunity to partner in supporting caregivers,” said Renee Hungerford, executive director of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee. “Caregivers often come upon this responsibility unexpectedly and they rearrange priorities to help someone through a difficult stage of life. Our hope for this program is to offer some positive quality time to these caring individuals and the people they care for.”

Greg Reed

Holland added that he, Katrina Chaffee, director of community services at Community Action, and Greg Reed, former YMCA director in Orleans County, developed this project while attending the Exhale seminars nearly a year ago. Reed is now the district executive director of Genesee and Orleans YMCA.

“This collaborative program is near and dear to my heart, as my mother was the primary caregiver for my grandmother as she navigated life with Alzheimer’s Disease,” Reed said. “The YMCA is here for the community to develop the social, metal and physical wellness of all people. This program provides refreshment amongst caregivers of older adults, where caregivers can connect socially, receive a mental break from caring for their loved ones (young and mature) and/or care for themselves physically through exercise opportunities at the YMCA. In working with Community Action, we’re able to work across the county for families who have limited transportation, too.”

Of Exhales’s latest grants, nine were in Western New York and three in Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Exhale, the Family Caregiver Initiative, is dedicated to offering innovative solutions that give caregivers of older adults an opportunity to breathe a little easier.

More information on the Caregivers Revitalize program will be released in the winter of 2023. To learn more about Exhale, visit www.exhaleforcaregivers.org.