At first, I didn’t know what I was doing, but with a lot of help from my friends and many, many angels from the community, we did it!
We created One Source-Empowering Caregivers, a nonprofit community service organization that provides free, nonmedical respite 24/7 to caregivers in their home.
In a few short years, we’ve built a self-sustaining nonprofit that has already trained 68 Volunteer Care Specialists and has served more than 80 caregivers.
OSEC was never about me. Although I worked 50 to 60 hours a week as the unpaid executive director and president of the board, the intent always was to build an organization that no longer needed me. In January, I turned the executive director position over to Carolyn Seyler, R.N., and at our June 22 meeting I was happy to resign as president of the OSEC Board of Directors. I handed the gavel over to Deborah Rousseau, who will serve as interim president of the board. We had a lovely party.
OSEC is all about a promise I made to a dying friend in 2014. My friend Yvon Dockter called to tell me her husband Craig had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was flooded with emotion, hearing the desperation and panic in her voice.
Having had the privilege of attending the sacred transitions of 10 other friends and family members, I knew what I had to do. Yvon was going to need respite, time for herself, in the coming months of 24/7 caregiving. She was going to need someone she trusted to watch over Craig, someone who would “be present” with him.
One of the last visits with Craig was the promise day. I was sitting next to his bed with my hands over his body, saying quiet prayers, and humming a beautiful tune. At one point, he opened his eyes and smiled the most beautiful smile.
He said, “I have an idea. When I get better, we should start a business where we help people in Yvon’s position. You know, caring for someone at home.”
“That’s a great idea. We will,” I said.
He beckoned me closer to him and looked deeply into my eyes and he said, “You promise?”
”Yes, I promise, Craig.”
Craig died a few days later, but my promise didn’t.
I wrote every intention down and plastered them everywhere on my walls all over my house. Daily, I thought about it, read about it, and meditated about it.
I set milestones: We need 20 people to show up at this first meeting and support these efforts. We need seven board members. We need an assistant to help me. We need a media consultant to publicize our efforts. We need local newspapers and radio stations to support our mission. We need an office space and computers and technical support. We need experts to help create the training program. We need first-class instructors. We need to recruit and train Volunteer Care Specialists, lots of them. And we need big-hearted donors, businesses, civic organizations and fundraisers to finance all this with money and in-kind services.
Even after OSEC launched and grew to be what is today, I still had a list of things to do, including finding people to replace me as executive director and president of the board of directors.
Amazingly, EVERY single thing that I wrote down and focused on with all my might showed up! I really believe it had nothing to do with me. I believe it had to do with divine intervention and the desperate need of caregivers and care recipients. I have so much faith that things will continue to expand and grow beyond any of our wildest imaginations, because it is the right thing and is so needed in the world.
AN EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE
You might have noticed I haven’t thanked anybody by name. I would if I could! But, if I were to list all the many people I want to thank, there would be no room to explain what I am thanking you all for.
With every breath I breathe, with everything I have learned during this time of service, with every cell of my being, I am in constant gratitude for all of the love, support, time and energy from the many, many individuals, businesses and organizations that helped create this mission. What none of us could do alone we have done together. Thank you all!
Donna Raibley is the founder of One Source-Empowering Caregivers, which is based in Grass Valley.