Great River Area Faith in Action is expanding into Princeton to provide services to keep elderly people in their homes, using volunteers and professionals to provide fee services based on need and ability to pay.
Faith in Action was formed 10 years ago in Sherburne County and its territory includes all of Sherburne and now goes from Princeton, south to Rogers, and west to St. Cloud. The group is expanding into Princeton to try to fill a void in services left when Rum River Intergrace Caregivers folded a few years ago. Intergrace Caregivers had used volunteers to help keep people in their homes. New Life Church in Princeton tried for a while to continue some of the services dropped when Intergrace Caregivers went under but was unable to continue that mission.
Faith in Action founder and Executive Director Denice Freih explained some of Faith in Action’s services when she was at the Princeton City Council last Thursday, and during an interview by phone on Monday. Freih said that Faith in Action, a nonprofit group, is seeking the donation of an office space in Princeton.
The services the group offers to the elderly, still living in their homes, include transportation, visitation, housekeeping and helping with furniture needs. Faith in Action raises funds for its work, mainly through grants, contracts and service fees. It also has a store called the GREAT Room in downtown Elk River.
A team, consisting of professional caseworkers and volunteers, provides the services. Before providing them, Faith in Action does an assessment of an elderly person in their home, identifying their needs, and what risks there are to them continuing to live at home. Such risks could include lack of transportation, memory loss, falling and difficulty with everyday activities.
Once the needs and risks are determined, the team decides what it could do to mitigate the obstacles to living at home, according to Freih. Among those could be the installation of bathroom support bars to help prevent falling, building a wheelchair ramp, providing a walker, providing meals through a group like Meals on Wheels, and doing laundry. It could be that the elderly person’s laundry room is in the basement, which can present a risk of falling, said Freih.
“We’re already coordinating on a regional level,” Freih said on Monday, “and this (moving into Princeton) is an expansion into an area where there is a gap in services.” One of Faith in Action’s components, called the We Care Team, has a initiative called the Bridging Project. It has youth volunteers helping senior citizens, an intergenerational project where youth and older persons gain from being with each other, Freih explained.
The Bridging Project is actually a living legacy of Freih’s late daughter Bridgett Stoll, who was killed in an auto accident at age 19, seven years ago. Bridgett was “one of the best student volunteers,” Freih said. “She loved the elderly. She had a passion and was going to medical school. There were thousands at her funeral and we kept hearing that we needed to honor her legacy. She believed that no older person should ever be lonely, and youth can make a difference.”
Rake the Town
Faith in Action is planning an activity that youth can get involved in right away as part of Faith in Action’s efforts. It’s called Rake the Town, and it means that volunteers can rake the lawns of people who need the raking but can’t get it done on their own.
Anyone in Princeton that fits in this category, and anyone wanting to help rake, can contact Faith in Action in advance. They may call from Princeton toll-free at 763-263-4277, or go on the website, [email protected] Last year Rake the Town had about 300 rakers, raking approximately 70 lawns.