by Margaret Brown
Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers (LVC) plays a vital role in the lives of those who are frail, elderly, sick or food insecure in our county by providing volunteers who take them to doctor’s appointments, visit with them or ensure they receive food on a regular basis. The four primary programs that LVC offers are free to those who receive their services. They include: 1. Food delivery – In conjunction with Loudoun Interfaith Relief, LVC helps identify those who are food insecure and need supplemental food, but cannot make it to the food pantry. Once Loudoun Interfaith Relief accepts the person(s) into the program, LVC assigns a volunteer who picks up and delivers food twice per month. From January 1 – June 30, 2015, LVC made 809 deliveries for Loudoun Interfaith Relief.
2. Grocery shopping – For those who are not food insecure, but are frail, elderly or disabled, LVC volunteers assist with grocery shopping. The volunteer either takes the care receiver shopping or does the shopping for him or her, depending on the situation.
3. Money management – LVC helps people who cannot manage their finances, primarily Social Security payments.
4. Other types of errands – From 60 to 65 percent of LVC services are transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, chemotherapy, dialysis or other appointments.“The people we serve may be lonely or isolated, so a volunteer may take the care receiver to get a haircut or to lunch,” said Susan Mandel Giblin, executive director of LVC. “The grants, such as the one from 100WomenStrong are vital to helping us to meet that need.”This year, 100WomenStrong provided $15,000 to LVC to expand delivery of food and services. Mandel Giblin said that they have used the funds to help grow the number of people they support with services from 55 per month to 63 per month.
“Our mission is to help people stay in their own homes as long as possible,” she explained. “They may live in a senior living community, or have their own apartment or home, but cannot get to the doctor, get to the grocery store or get to Loudoun Interfaith Relief’s pantry by themselves.”
She explained that LVC tries to keep volunteer recruitment and growth at the same levels as growth in care receivers. “We currently have approximately 260 volunteers with a core group of 170 who handle the bulk of the assignments,” Mandel Giblin said. “If we bring in five new care receivers, then we want to bring in five new volunteers so we can ensure ongoing support.”
She went on to explain that the population receiving LVC support is very mobile, meaning they are not necessarily “permanent” recipients of LVC support. As she explained, recipients move, they pass away, they become too frail to live on their own or they no longer are food insecure.
“We could easily support more people if we had more volunteers,” Mandel Giblin explained “For example, over the past six months, we have helped eight different people get to chemotherapy or dialysis treatments. Those visits are three days a week for four hours each treatment, so that amounts to a lot of volunteer hours, a lot of trips and a lot of volunteer miles. We were lucky enough to have 13 volunteers supporting those eight care receivers.”
Mandel Giblin said that LVC strives to get to anyone who has need in Loudoun County, and grants make it possible for them to continue to do so.
“We don’t charge anything for the errands and other services we provide, and we want to be available to anyone in Loudoun County who may need us,” she explained.