CarePartners’ Volunteers host a Drive-Thru Gathering Place at KUMC
On a beautiful Friday morning in September, our Gathering Place Care Team® volunteers from Kingwood United Methodist Church (KUMC) hosted their first Drive-Thru Gathering Place.
“We are trying to be as safe as we can and give them some entertainment,” said Gathering Place volunteer Heidi Fallon.
A Drive-Thru Gathering Place is an opportunity for family caregivers to bring their loved one on a short drive through one of our community partner’s parking lots. Different stations are set up along the route; care partners (clients) receive a goodie bag at the start of their journey, play games, collect prizes and crafts, exercise, listen to music and more. The care partners remain safely in their car while socializing and interacting with our amazing volunteers, (who are wearing masks and using hand sanitizer often), and then enjoy a bag full of fun games and treats at home.
Heidi is part of Kingwood Women’s Club which is how she was connected to CarePartners ten years ago.
“The coronavirus has been really hard,” Heidi said. “I’m just so thankful for CarePartners for finding a way to make it work. This could have been something that crushed CarePartners and what a shame that would have been because there is a need out there for this program.”
Partnership and Pandemic Response
The Gathering Place program began at KUMC in 2008 and in 2017 established a CarePartners’ Second Family Care Team. Since our partnership began, we have served over 80 families and donated 5,866 hours of free care.
“Normally we meet once a month with our care partners (clients) and have a party with them,” Heidi said. “Unfortunately, right now we have to think outside the box and that’s what we are doing out here in this driveway is coming up with a way for our care partners and their caregivers to come and be with us for 10-15 minutes to get a break from their boring routine.”
Throughout this pandemic, our staff and volunteers have been connecting and serving our family caregivers and their loved ones living with memory loss and other challenges of aging through innovative and creative ways. CarePartners has been creating weekly online resources as well as providing fun, engaging and socially distant support. Activities include several new expressions of the Gathering Place, weekly virtual Common Ground support group, delivering care kits and online educational resources. During the last 6 months of this crisis, CarePartners has provided more than 4,175 volunteer hours to over 1,000 families.
CarePartners is a nonprofit, volunteer led organization that provides support, education, and resources for caregivers and quality care for those living with memory loss and other challenges of aging. Much of our care is for the vulnerable elderly and individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. CarePartners, serves all people at no cost. We provide life-changing care as well as educational and support services to families in the Greater Houston area through our four core programs; Gathering Place, Second Family, Common Ground and Caregiver Educational Events. Visit our Monitoring the Coronavirus webpage for more helpful resources.