There was reason for jubilation at the annual meeting of the National Federation of Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Inc., held April 23-26 in Arrowhead Springs.
Not only did the organization mark a decade of providing non-medical care to incapacitated and chronically ill people, but it also announced a $23-million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to a Faith in Action campaign to add 900 local care-giver programs to the 400 in existence across the country, including eight in Southern California.
According to Kenneth Johnson, a Kingston, N.Y., physician who persuaded the foundation to fund an initial grant to launch the program 10 years ago, “The point is to make it possible for frail and disabled people and those who love and look after them to live their lives to the fullest. Who can better make that a reality than the faith community?”
Local care-giver programs are independent and autonomous, although affiliated with the federation, which provides training in interfaith outreach, volunteer supervision and fund raising.
Patricia Meredith is the executive director of Caregivers: Volunteers Assisting the Elderly in Ventura County, one of the first programs in the nation. It became self-sufficient three years after receiving a start-up grant from the foundation in 1984, and now runs on assistance from individuals, businesses, religious organizations and United Way. It has volunteers from 22 churches and synagogues.
“Our society does not provide very good services for frail elderly people,” Meredith said. “It is better not to let the inability to buy groceries or get to the doctor land them in a board and care facility or nursing home. That is both bad for them and a burden to society. Our program is the first line of defense for people who want to stay in their own homes.”
In Ventura County, most but not all volunteers are retirees. “We do have younger people,” Meredith said, “but our clients need help mostly during working hours.”
Churches, synagogues, mosques, Buddhist temples and other organizations interested in starting a care-giver organization are encouraged to apply to the Faith in Action program for start-up grants of $25,000 to $40,000. Contact Faith in Action, P.O. Box 290, 368 Broadway, Suite 105, Kingston, N.Y. 12401. Phone: (914) 331-3867.
* More than 300 million members of the Eastern Orthodox Church worldwide will observe Easter this Sunday. At 11 p.m. today, a dramatic candle-lighting Resurrection service will be held at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 1324 S. Normandie Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 737-2424. St. Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church in Covina will hold a service at 11:30 p.m. today and at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. 2030 E. Covina Blvd. (818) 967-5524. Many members of the local Greek Orthodox community will celebrate with a traditional picnic from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at Brookside Park at 360 N. Arroyo Blvd., adjacent to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. (213) 737-2424.
* A French-language Mass will be celebrated by Father Henri Capedeville of the Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David, Ariz., at 11 a.m. Sunday in the chapel of Mount Saint Mary College, 12001 Chalon Road, Los Angeles. For information about Aumonerie Catholique Francophone, a French-speaking Catholic chaplaincy that meets on the first Sunday of each month, phone (310) 394-5344.
* A Jewish-Christian-Islamic get-together entitled “Sharing Abraham” will be presented by the Islamic Center of Southern California from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. May 15. Scheduled a few days before Eid Ul-Udha (the Feast of Sacrifice), which occurs on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Zulhijja, the event is intended to enable Jews, Christians and Muslims to better understand one another and to honor the patriarch and his teachings. Speakers include Rabbi Alfred Wolf of the Skirball Institute on American Values, Msgr. Royale M. Vadakin of St. Anastasia Church in Westchester and Dr. Hassan Hathout of the Islamic Center of Southern California. Admission is free; reservations are required. Phone (213) 382-9300, Ext. 16.
* The American Jewish Congress Feminist Center will celebrate Mother’s Day, May 8, with a two-hour workshop entitled “Aliyah L’Torah: Torah Etiquette.” Instructor Rachel Adler will teach the basics of participating in a synagogue Torah service. Advance registration is required. The fee is $25 for adults; $36 for a mother and her son or daughter over 13. (213) 651-4601.
* “One Voice, One Heart, One Spirit,” a benefit performance by Disney recording artist Craig Taubman, singer Joshua Path and the Israeli troupe, Keshet Chaim Dancers, will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at University Synagogue. Proceeds go to the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, which suffered $3.5 million in damage from the Jan. 17 earthquake. Tickets range from $10 to $100. 11960 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. (818) 348-7201.
* Chapel of Charlemagne, a choral group dedicated to the performance of Christian music of the Middle Ages, will perform Gregorian chants at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Kresge Chapel at the School of Theology at Claremont. Admission is free. 1325 N. College Ave. (909) 626-3521.
* More than 400 singers will reprise the full musical program performed Easter Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl today from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Founder’s Church of Religious Science. Tickets are $10, or $15, including a celebrity reception to benefit the nonprofit Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service organization. 3281 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles. (213) 388-9733.
* Newly appointed Bishop Gambino Zavala will speak at Catholic Charities 10th Annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner, honoring 159 volunteers serving in parishes from East Los Angeles to the Pomona Valley, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at a restaurant in Montebello. For information, phone (213) 266-3130.
* The Muslim Public Affairs Council holds its Media Awards Banquet at 6:30 p.m. today at the New Otani Hotel. Producer Lindsay Miller and director Peter Sellars will be honored. (213) 383-3443.
* Beth Chayim Chadashim honors Rabbi Harold Schulweis with the Rabbi Erwin and Agnes Herman Humanitarian Award at its dinner-dance next Saturday at the Century Plaza Hotel. (213) 931-7023.
* Four Southlanders were among 12 American Baptists scheduled to serve as official observers of South Africa’s first democratic elections this week: the Rev. Dumas A. Harshaw, Jr., a former Los Angeles pastor now serving as ministries director for Africa, Europe and the Middle East; the Rev. M. Cecelia Broadous, staff member of the Los Angeles Baptist City Mission Society; the Rev. Forrest Lowe, associate minister of the society; and the Rev. Norman Johnson, pastor of the First New Christian Baptist Church in Los Angeles.