High Country Caregiver Foundation helps carry the load
by Sherrie Norris
Life, for many of us in the High Country,
is centered upon family and community. There is an element of compassion found here that is unique
to this area -- a trait easily noted through the work of the High Country Caregiver Foundation.
Since 2007, the non-profit organization has helped ease the load of family
caregivers in Avery and Watauga counties.
"We believe that when
caregivers use respite and other support services, they are better able to preserve quality in
their own lives and enhance overall family life," said Brenda Reece, family caregiver support
specialist with Area Agency on Aging.
"From time to time, families
with caregiving responsibilities need opportunities for a break from caring for their loved one.
The HCC F is here to help those individuals find and finance respite opportunities so they have
time to relax and rejuvenate," Reece said. "Respite can take many forms, but it comes down to two
basic ideas -- sharing the responsibility for caregiving and getting support for yourself."
Finding the right balance requires persistence, patience, and preparation,"
she said. "Using respite care before you become exhausted, isolated or overwhelmed is ideal -- and
just anticipating regular relief can become a lifesaver."
mission of HCCF is simple. "We are here to increase awareness of caregiving issues and to improve
the quality of life for caregivers and those they care for," Reece said. "We are here to advocate
for them, provide them with information and educational opportunities they might not have
otherwise, including support groups."
The HCCF also makes referrals
and offers resources to help clients obtain services that they might not realize are available.
"Often, the biggest need caregivers have is for physical rest and emotional support," she said.
Through a respite voucher system used by the HCCF -- and made possible by a
strong partnership with other local agencies -- family caregivers are given a break from their
heavy load. Vouchers may be used for payment for services offered through partnering vendors, which
include most of the area's healthcare agencies.
receiving the voucher chooses his or her vendor (from partnering agencies) and organizes services
with that vendor, which will in turn invoice the foundation, which covers the cost.
"HCCF places primary emphasis on organizing community support and involvement in
its programming and regards partnering as a key to its success," said Reece. "We realize the
importance of collaborating with other agencies and organizations to better serve our community.
Without these partnerships and that of High Country Council of Governments -- which provides staff
and administrative services for the program -- none of the foundation's efforts would be
It's through the fundraising efforts of HCCF, a volunteer organization, that caregivers are provided with small grants to fund respite care.
award grants up to $500 per recipient, per calendar year," said Reece. "Priority is given to
families who have financial need and are neither eligible nor receiving respite services from
another organization or agency."
To date, the HCCF has given out more
than 200 vouchers in the two counties.
"The support of our partners --
and the generosity of our community -- allows HCCF to distribute 100 percent of donations to local
caregivers," she said.
In addition to
the voucher program, the HCCF offers a variety of programs and services to family caregivers
including the High Country Relatives as Parents Program, monthly caregiver support groups, annual
caregiver appreciation events, National Healthcare Decisions Day and candlelight reflections.
Additionally, educational workshops and information, assistance and referral services are made
available, especially through partnering agencies of the Adult Services Coalition of Watauga County.
Current HCCF board members are Carol Berns, president, Ellen Harrell,
vice-president, Kay Decherd, secretary, Julie Getty, treasurer; Mary Blalock, Linda Bretz, Carol
Smith, Elizabeth Young, Carol Schaffer, Carol Berns, Patty Wheeler, Garrick Smith, Gigi Barker,
Linda "Bunny" Eilers, Billy Hoilman and Jackie Roberts.
Sheriff L.D. Hagaman, Rebecca Eggers, R.D. Daniels, Kelly Redmond, Sherrie Norris, Lindsay
For more information, or to make a donation, call Brenda
Reece at (828) 265-5434 or visit http://www.highcountrycaregiverfoundation.org.
-- A Necessary Element
will host its seventh annual fundraising auction from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Sat. Aug. 4, at the Best
Western in Banner Elk.
Along with the ever-popular Trivia Night that the
HCCF hosts twice a year, the auction raises a substantial amount of money to keep the program
But, Reece said, "It's the reason behind the event that means so much to our
foundation. We want everyone to know that the funds raised at Saturday's event will help many
families in the High Country."
The event is free and open to the public
and will include live and silent auctions and raffle with food and entertainment available.
Evergreens Restaurant and Lounge will donate 20 percent of its evening's proceeds to the HCCF.
Among the auction items are tickets to area attractions such as The Barter
Theatre, Mystery Hill, Tweetsie Railroad and Dollywood; a one-night stay at Harrah's Casino in
Cherokee along with dinner for two at Paula Dean's Restaurant; gift certificates for fine dining
at area restaurants; lodging in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, a stunning, one of a kind,
hand-crafted jewelry armoire, tennis and golf lessons, handcrafted art; Nascar collectibles,
shrubbery, pottery, jewelry, housewares, gift baskets, and more.
healthcare providers and event sponsors will be in attendance to meet caregivers and answer
questions about their services.
All donations and proceeds will
support family caregivers in Avery and Watauga counties.
For more information, or to make a donation, contact Brenda Reece (828) 265-5434, ext. 128 or (email@example.com)