How This Community Cares

In the “it’s a small world” category, I had lunch today with the Executive Director of The Care Communities. I ride on The Care Communities Team for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, but this is not why she and I were lunching over different flavors of chicken salad at the original Hyde Park Bar and Grill.

I was introduced to Carol by a mutual friend in New York City, one of my New York book club buddies who went to seminary with Carol. Two friends from  University Presbyterian Church of Austin also encouraged me to meet Carol. They got me involved in both The Care Communities and the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. With that many connections, we are destined to be friends!

It was an honor to meet Carol and learn about her organization, which provides volunteer families for people suffering with AIDS and cancer. The Care Communities offers people with little or no resources help with everything from walking the dog to rides to the grocery store to house cleaning to friendship. They also help obtain basic needs from other available services in the community.

I was intrigued by her use of the term “volunteer family,” so I asked her to describe that. Her answer blew me away. For every client a group of volunteers (usually four or more people) are assigned to help that person with whatever non-medical needs he or she may have. While the professional staff works to sign clients up for whatever services may be available to them, volunteers are visiting and caring for each and every one of them. It’s an amazing model that has worked so well, Carol says, that it was extended to cancer patients. It began as a service for people with AIDS.

They are funded by the Hill Country Ride for AIDS and the Mamma Jamma Ride Against Breast Cancer, which will be October 27 this year. Wish I had known about Mamma Jamma sooner! I would ride for them, too. As is it I’m barely in training for the next Hill Country ride in April. I’m hoping to do 50 miles.

It feels good to know exactly what my time and effort is doing. Thanks, Krystin, for the introduction to Carol and thanks, Carol, for sharing your work story with me.

© Suzanne Freeman 2012

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About Suzanne Freeman

I have been back in Austin for two years now after a 20-year absence, first in Sacramento, California, then to New York City, where I spent the last 16 years. I miss The City and the friends I left in both places, but love, love, love being back in Austin with my family. Thanks, Steve for coming with me!
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