Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Bainbridge Island (IVC) was originally founded and organized in 1996 by members of several Island religious congregations. They recognized that in our community there was a real and growing need for a program that would enable caring people to reach out to help vulnerable neighbors who had important unmet needs.
One of the founders was Judith Louderbach, who then worked for Hospice of Kitsap County. She saw that the concept of a countywide IVC–type program would not be workable, but that sufficient interest and prospective volunteers did exist on BainbridgeIsland. With her help, initial funding for IVC was obtained from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and channeled through Hospice.
A Board of Directors was established, with Joyce Veterane as President, Joan Treacy as Secretary and Dick Gregory as Treasurer. Sue and Bob Kuebler were also Board members at IVC’s beginning. IVC was officially incorporated in the State of Washington on April 29, 1997, and subsequently received its tax status as a Sec 501©(3).
From fewer than 30 recipients of care and 4 volunteers in 1996/97, the program has grown to support 130 volunteers serving more than 200 care receivers in 2013. The program continues to grow with more service requests and an increasing need for more volunteers to be trained and supported. Our two most direct service options include Transportation (medical appointments, shopping, errands, flower delivery) and Home Support (respite, companionship and light housekeeping).
Caregiver support and grief support groups were also formed to assist our care receivers. “Flowers from the Heart” continues to bring joy to many of IVC’s contacts, and is a way of sharing the beauty of flowers with many. Our programs continue to grow with more requests for assistance and an increasing need for more volunteers to be trained and supported.
At first, local faith congregations were the sources of IVC’s volunteers and funding beyond the initial grant; and throughout IVC’s existence faith group members have been very significant sources of IVC’s volunteers and financial support. However, as its mission has steadily grown, IVC has become more widely diverse, and that mission has also been carried on and supported by increasing numbers of volunteers and donors who do not have faith group affiliations, as well as with the aid of grants from a number of secular organizations.
In light of this diversity, at the beginning of 2014, IVC’s Board of Directors decided to change the name of IVC from Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers to Island Volunteer Caregivers. This decision was made in order that the name would more clearly reflect that our mission is inclusive, welcoming care receivers, volunteers and supporters of any and all backgrounds, and regardless of presence or absence of religious affiliations or ideologies.
While IVC’s name has changed, the organization, its mission and its underlying values will remain the same. With the involvement and generosity of people and organizations throughout our community, IVC continues to enable volunteer opportunities for compassionate service to a great many of our neighbors in need.