Caring Carroll Inc. is a non-profit 501c3 organization that screens and trains volunteers to support older and disabled adults in Carroll County, MD. In 1999 a small group of organizations determined that there was a need to check on isolated frail elderly and disabled adults that wished to remain living independently in the community. At the time, a phone safety check program was started called Seniors Keep In Touch. After a number of successful years, it became evident that those in the program needed much more than a phone call. It was determined that there was no other agency who provided these same services to low-income and, particularly, for free using volunteers. There are also long waiting lists for services for low-income seniors through county and state programs.
In 2005, a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation known as Faith in Action was applied for and received. The organization functioned as “Faith in Action, Neighbors Helping
Neighbors” with volunteers who provided non-medical services (these are services that are on the Activities of Daily Living scale). The Board voted to adopt the name of Caring Carroll, which became incorporated and received its public charity status from the IRS on December 6, 2007. Volunteers provide, for free, services such as transportation to and from appointments, help with errands, friendly visits, light housekeeping, gardening, yard work, small home repairs.
Caring Carroll also provides financial assistance for services that are beyond the scope of a volunteer and may require a experienced contractor.
Caring Carroll has served over 150 “Care Receivers” or clients in 2017. There were 118 clients who received volunteer services during 2016. While some care receivers only need one of the services mentioned above, most need several of the services and receive them on a weekly basis through the coordination of volunteers, or possibly, a one-on-one match.
Most of Caring Carroll’s Care Receivers are low-income seniors. Individuals are referred by the Bureau of Aging and Disabilities, the Carroll County Health Department, Carroll Hospital, Carroll County Department of Social Services, William Kahlert Regional Cancer Center, American Cancer Society, Access Carroll, Human Services Programs, Carroll Home Care/Home Care Maryland LLC, Carroll Hospice, RSVP, senior housing units, other agencies, churches and facilities. We also receive many self-referrals and requests from family members who may live in other counties or, even, out of state.
Caring Carroll is fortunate to, currently, have over 120 volunteers, of which more than 50% are active on a weekly basis, many of whom help multiple care receivers. The majority of these volunteers, themselves, are over 60. Volunteers receive initial training, a background check, and ongoing support from the Executive Director and Program Coordinator with individual situations and continued training. Caring Carroll also provides volunteer liability, accident and excess auto insurance, which offers security to volunteers and allows them to feel comfortable working directly with care receivers, especially when it comes to providing transportation.
Because of our beginning as a Faith in Action Grant, Caring Carroll, Inc. has a Board of Directors with representation from 5 local churches (Grace Lutheran Church, Westminster United Methodist, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, St. John Catholic Church, and St. Joseph’s Catholic Community) and other community organizations such as Carroll County Health Department, The Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County and concerned citizens.
The Carroll County Health Department, a State of Maryland agency, has provided, in-kind, a Program Coordinator. Due to state budget cuts, the in-kind position has been decreased from 32 hours per week in 2015 to 20 hours per week in 2016 to 16 hours per week as of July 1, 2017. The hours for this position will be again reassessed for Fiscal 2019. This Program Coordinator currently coordinates over 150 Care Receivers and 120 Volunteers. Both numbers continue to increase, requiring more interviews and trainings and increased coordination.
In October of 2016, Caring Carroll was able to hire a part-time Executive Director for 30 hours per week. With an Executive Director the plan would be to see the organization expand with more services county-wide, become more financially independent and have a continued sustainability plan. This expansion would result in larger numbers of clients that will be able to access and receive more services, more consistent administration of the volunteers, program coordination and support a larger program and increase sustainability. The Executive Director immediately began raising funds, administrative duties and future planning, including the development of a more comprehensive business plan.
The Executive Director began recruiting volunteers to serve on a Fundraising committee. Responsibilities of the committee include more frequent events, grant application review and fundraising events/project planning and implementation. The Executive Director is responsible for the fundraising plan including grants with the hope of increasing the organization’s current budget, expanding its services and to begin to create a more independent organization with its own paid leadership and office space. Since the Fundraising Committee began in February 2017, it has raised just over $17,000 through a benefit concert, flea markets, cookbook sales, private donations, small grants and events. We recently held a Bingo raising $2702.
Since October 2016, Caring Carroll has pursued funding from the Carroll County Health Department, Weinberg Foundation, United Way, Knott Foundation, Point Breeze Credit Union, Aflac and the Stulman Foundation. Of these grant applications only the Health Department was awarded. The various reasons given for denied funding is because we are either too small, they require a formal audit which we do not have or there were just so many grant applications and we were not selected. Many grants also want to provide funds for direct services to clients not for administrative costs. As an example, Caring Carroll has received St. Paul’s Foundation funding in the past and will continue to pursue that as it is available. It has a $10,000 cap and must be used for direct services specifically to seniors; no staffing.
Simultaneously, the Executive Director began recruiting a Strategic Planning Committee among our volunteers and they began meeting in early 2017, as well as, held a strategic planning retreat. A copy of the Strategic Plan, which is available upon request, was approved at our September Board Meeting.
A Program Coordination Committee which includes volunteers, healthcare professionals and staff has recently been formed to work on increasing volunteer involvement in the administrative duties of Caring Carroll. We realized we were going to need to do this when we did not receive the United Way grant in June 2017 which we had asked to provide funding for a part-time volunteer coordinator position. We are also going to work to recruit additional volunteer leaders for specific aspects of the program including office coverage, yard work, home repairs and transportation. The leaders would work with the other volunteers who want to provide their time in each of these areas. As part of this committee, we will continue to work on finding a more efficient volunteer tracking software program. This committee has also updated care receiver intake guidelines and forms.
Part ll - Current Process
The services provided by Caring Carroll help Care Receivers with their social and mental well-being. They feel connected and a part of the community. Volunteers also feel a part of the community and gain a sense of fulfillment through their assistance with those in need.
All of the care receiver requests are handled by the Program Coordinator. When Caring Carroll receives a new referral, the individual is contacted by phone and completes a referral form in order to get a baseline of information (e.g. basic contact information, requested services, emergency contact information, personal information, mobility status, services currently receiving, additional information, and the name and contact information of the referring agency).
If the individual is requesting services that Caring Carroll can provide, are ambulatory, and have little to no other local support systems, then that individual is scheduled for an in-home interview. Once an in-home interview is completed and all forms have been signed, the individual is notified as to whether or not he/she has become a Caring Carroll Care Receiver. When a Caring Carroll Care Receiver needs a service, he/she calls the Caring Carroll phone line and places the request. The Coordinator calls the Care Receiver and enters the request into a color-coded Excel spreadsheet that captures the date/time, name, address, place of appointment and, eventually, name of the volunteer who agrees to cover the request. Once the request is entered, a “Request for Volunteer” email is sent to the volunteer email group. The information disclosed in this e-mail includes: the date/time, city of residence, and city where the appointment is located. If a volunteer is available to cover the request, he/she emails the office to receive the name, address, and phone number of the care receiver, as well as the location of the appointment. This process has been put into place in order to meet HIPPA standards regarding the disclosure of information surrounding medical appointments and issues. The volunteer then contacts the care receiver to confirm the date and time of the appointment and then proceeds to provide the service on the set date and time. This information is then recorded. The Care Receiver may also be referred to other agencies for additional assistance.
All Caring Carroll volunteers must attend a 1 hour training session which includes Caring Carroll history, purpose and mission, explanation of all volunteer services offered, safety policies, and what is expected of a volunteer. Volunteers must complete and sign a volunteer application, disclosure statement and confidentiality statement. A criminal and motor vehicle background check is completed on all volunteers.
It is the policy of Caring Carroll that the Program Coordinator and/or the Executive Director must meet, in person, all potential Care Receivers and all Volunteers.