Improving Quality of Life for Caregivers One Volunteer at a Time

Daily Point of Light # 6307 Jul 18, 2018
Volunteer Care Specialist Training Program Committee (Left to right): Diane Miessler, Jeree Waller, Harriet Totten, Donna Raibley, Elizabeth Rawson, Katherine Doolittle and  Cindy Cooper./Courtesy Donna Raibley

58-year-old Donna Raibley has always been a caretaker in her personal life. First to her mother, and then informally to other family and friends. While providing relief to a friend whose husband was ill, the husband had one request of Donna: that when he got better, the two would start an organization that advocated for caretakers. Donna promised the man that they would do just that.

In 2014, Donna established One Source – Empowering Caregivers (OSEC), an organization dedicated to providing free, non-medical respite care for family caregivers. According to the Grass Valley, California resident, OSEC is a “divine calling.” The logo came to Donna in a dream, and its mission is one she has dedicated her life to with her community’s continuous supporting..

By advocating and improving the quality of life for an increasing number of caregivers, Donna is making an impact on her community as the country’s elderly population grows and is today’s Daily Point of Light award honoree. Points of Light spoke to Donna to learn more about her work with OSEC.

What inspires you to volunteer?

When we visit homes, these caretakers are just so overwhelmed. When we leave and they realize our services were truly free, you see the hope in their eyes. That’s what keeps me going every day. It’s the hope that I see in their eyes that grabs my heart; to know we can offer them something so that they can have sustainability in what they’re doing while taking care of a loved one.

Describe your volunteer role with One Source – Empowering Caregivers (OSEC).

I interface with our community to make sure stakeholders are happy with what’s going on so that they continue to fund our efforts. We receive calls from caregivers all the time, so I work to schedule in-home appointments with registered nurses who donate their time. We offer volunteer support groups with a local doctor who also volunteers his time. We’ve trained about 45 volunteers so far, and 25 of those are currently assigned to caregivers.

What would the title of your autobiography be?

(Laughs) Gosh darn, “It’s all about love.”

Donna Raibley, Founder and Executive Director of One Source-Empowering Caregivers./Courtesy Donna Raibley

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

When I see a volunteer come in and express their desire to give back to the community and tell us how much more they’re getting out of their service than they ever dreamed. We’re empowering everybody who comes forward to serve. That’s the most rewarding part; to see everyone step into their empowerment.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

Intuitively, I’ve always believed that the only reason we’re here is to serve one another. Every occupation I’ve been involved in has been a service position. For me, that resonates really deeply. When we forget our duty to serve is when things go awry.

Are there any future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about?

We’re holding our second annual HeART and Wine Gala on October 20, 2018. Please check our website for more information:  https://empoweringcaregivers.org/. With respect to our programs, we’re trying to add an element of youth to our volunteer troops to break down some multigenerational barriers. It’s a way for youths to serve and gain exposure to the care field. We find that a lot of young people are intimidated by an older, chronically ill person, but then they discover that they are still a wonderful person who has a lot to offer. It changes their perspective on the entire situation.

Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?  

When you go out and serve someone else, you forget about your little problems, and we’re all connected through service. Whatever I do to serve you, it’s not just serving you, it’s serving everyone. Volunteerism has a ripple effect.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

If you feel like you can help in some small way and you have a dream in the back of your mind, just do it. Don’t think about any barriers that might get in the way. I wish I was 25 years younger to do more good. Your mindset changes as you get older; you don’t realize the potential in every one of us to go out and make a change. The smallest change has the hugest effect.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Donna Raibley? Visit All For Good for local volunteer opportunities.

Post written by Marlena Militana.

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