By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
April is National Volunteer Month, and National Volunteer Week will be celebrated April 18 – April 24. The Licking community is blessed with many willing volunteers. “The Licking News” asked local community support organizations to help honor some of these volunteers. This is the first recognition, with more to come.
The Care Network, a Licking United Methodist Church (LUMC) outreach program, was chosen by Haley Floyd-Joyner, manager at Licking Residential Care (LRC), as a long-time blessing to the residents. The Care Network has been visiting with LRC residents since the facility opened in December 2004. Joyner shares, “Even since the COVID shutdown and not having Bingo, they have continued supplying “The Upper Room” daily devotional, and sending cards and mail to our residents.”
It is unknown how long The Care Network has been active, however current members believe, while records could not be located, it or a very similar organization was active long ago.
Jean Freeze took on the leadership of the network in approximately 2005; prior to that she said, “My husband, Donald and I, were weekend warriors until 1996, helping to maintain the family farm while residing in the St. Louis area.” Records indicate that Barbara Killion, Hazel Lipinski, Emily Nelson, Pastor Connie Bell and Freeze were volunteering at Licking Residential Care in 2006. “I love the ladies and the socialization is such a blessing,” affirmed Freeze.
Licking native Lois Floyd is a lifelong member of LUMC. Her husband, Leonard’s, aunt, Nettie (Floyd) Evans, was LRC’s first resident. Floyd joined The Care Network in 2010. “Those we help, including the LRC residents, are our neighbors and friends. We try to do what we can for them and our community,” said Floyd.
Lori Roach has been a church member since 2001 and a member of The Care Network since 2012. She affirmed, “We are blessed by doing this; we get back way more than they receive.”
Margaret Heithold has been a church member since 1976 and with The Care Network since 2013. Heithold babysat Floyd’s children when they were young.
Several members’ husbands are a part of the Men’s Group outreach at LUMC.
Freeze assumed the Bingo caller position from a predecessor, but she quickly adds, “Lois acts as my legs,” and continued recognizing the way all the members help each other, while helping others. “Lori and Margaret help those of the residents who need help playing the game.” A Bingo winning is 25 cents per game, with The Care Network supplying the quarters. While the COVID-19 pandemic has kept the network from joining residents for the game, Heithold says, “I never spend my quarters, I save them for Bingo. I was getting so many…” She reminded the residents they were in her thoughts by mailing quarters to them, with the note, “You’re a winner!”
In addition to playing Bingo at LRC, they also supply residents with “The Upper Room” daily devotional guide. Residents, church members and extended church family are the recipients of greeting cards and notes of encouragement, and the beneficiaries of prayer by the prayer warriors. The group also provides crocheted, knitted or quilted baby blankets for newborns of the church family.
An expansion of their ministry was the Prayer Shawl program. In 2006 Freeze contacted two churches in Arkansas about coordinating the program, and it evolved with Evelyn Ware being the first local recipient on Feb. 16, 2006. Heithold has even been a recipient of a prayer shawl when she was experiencing health problems. The knitted, crocheted or quilted prayer shawls are made with love, and the crafters pray for the recipient, known or unknown, while making them. Since 2006 over 100 shawls have been given away to church members, terminal patients and those in need. “We want to wrap them in God’s love, and provide physical and spiritual warmth,” shared the group. Even when previous helpers can no longer actively participate, they continue their support of the group by making and providing items, and they continue to be prayer warriors.
All activities are gifts of the The Care Network. These ladies do it as a part of their personal ministries to help others, with financial support subsidized by an anonymous donor. Records are kept on how donations are used.
When asked, “What is your motivation for volunteering?” each of the four members enthusiastically replied, “The people and following the example of Christ.”
While The Care Network has been very cautious due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have continued their ministry when possible to do so safely, and they all agree that they will be so glad to get back to LRC and be with “our” ladies!
Freeze acknowledged, “There but by the grace of God go I.”
Volunteers are always welcome to join The Care Network group in their ministries.