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Tom Durkin
Nonprofit sees pressing need for caregiver help
“Almost 24 percent of the population in Nevada County is over 65. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize many people in that population are in-home caregivers or care recipients,” said Donna Raibley, founder and unpaid executive director of One Source — Empowering Caregivers, or OSEC.

“And it doesn’t take much more imagination to realize there are many younger people who are caregivers and care recipients as well,” the Grass Valley resident said. “Accidents, disabilities and illnesses don’t discriminate by age.”

“When we contacted several county agencies about the number of unpaid, in-home caregivers, they referred us back to us,” Raibley laughed sadly.

“The only numbers we have are that we have more caregivers requesting our free respite service than we have Volunteer Care Specialists to assist them,” said Raibley. She admitted she is discouraged from having to say “not yet” to so many desperate caregivers.

“We need more volunteers,” pleaded Raibley, who is volunteering as a respite caregiver herself. “We need compassionate, trustworthy men and women who have the heart to give caregivers a hand.”

Having already meticulously screened and trained more than a dozen Volunteer Care Specialists, OSEC began placing them in homes in February.

“We’re gearing up for another training starting April 22,” Raibley said. “We have room for 20 volunteers.”

“The training was really good. It was so thorough,” said volunteer Yvon Dockter of Nevada City. She is currently watching over the elderly mother of a caregiver daughter so her daughter can enjoy some time for herself.

Once screened and trained, OSEC Volunteer Care Specialists commit to just four hours a week. They provide non-medical companionship care to care recipients so their caregivers can take a break – go shopping, meet with friends, get some exercise, see a movie or even volunteer for their favorite charity.

“This is so needed. It doesn’t seem like much, but to the caregiver it’s a big deal,” said Dockter, who speaks from experience. Before she became a Volunteer Care Specialist, she was a caregiver who received respite care from Raibley for her dying husband three years ago.

In fact, a promise Raibley made to Craig Dockter on his deathbed was the inspiration for OSEC, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that the impassioned Raibley has spearheaded — “with a lot of help from a lot of people” — since 2014.

“This is my mission in life,” she concluded simply.

OSEC will begin training its next team of Volunteer Care Specialists on Saturday, April 22. The free training (lunch included) runs for three consecutive Saturdays. For more information, call Donna Raibley at 530-205-9514 or visit empoweringcaregivers.org/volunteer/

Tom Durkin is a member of the board of One Source – Empowering Caregivers and a freelance writer/photographer in Nevada County. Contact him at tdurkin@vfr.net or www.tomdurkin-writer.net.