Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Since its inception in 2003, Rural Stearns Faith in Action has relied on volunteer drivers to meet the needs of seniors and people facing difficult life circumstances. Many of Faith in Action's volunteers have driven hundreds, and even thousands of miles a year at their own expense.
Beth Neu, the Volunteer Coordinator of Faith in Action, said, "I am amazed by the commitment that our volunteers have shown to helping out their neighbors in need, sacrificing not only their time, but also their financial resources. The cost of gas, vehicle maintenance and repair really adds up."
This cost has made volunteering as a driver impracticable for some members of the communities Rural Stearns Faith in Action serves, including many people who are unemployed, underemployed, and retired, living on a modest fixed income.Ê Recognizing that this financial sacrifice was a major obstacle for some of the program's potential volunteers, Scott Holte, Faith in Action's AmeriCorps VISTA, and Lindsey Sand, the Director of Community Services, started looking into funding sources last fall.
Holte said, "As we were researching foundations that have funded organizations in Central Minnesota we noticed that CentraCare Health Foundation had provided funding to Holdingford Helping Hands and St. Cloud Faith in Action (now Great River Faith in Action). These programs provide many of the same services that we do, so we thought that CentraCare Health Foundation might be a good fit."
Sand and Holte applied for a $4,950 grant in December. And on Feb. 9, CentraCare Health Foundation approved Rural Stearns Faith in Action's grant request, allowing Faith in Action to reimburse volunteer drivers $0.30 a mile for trips to health care appointments.
Neu said, "We don't think that helping others should come with a financial burden, so we are really excited about this grant, and what it will do for our program."
Rural Stearns Faith in Action hopes that this grant will allow them to develop a volunteer pool of 75 drivers over the next year, including 30 new drivers. Rural Stearns Faith in Action is currently trying to recruit more volunteer drivers in communities across greater Stearns County including communities in the Kimball area.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer driver, please contact Beth Neu at (320) 348-2316
About Rural Stearns Faith in Action
Rural Stearns Faith in Action is a nonprofit community based program with hubs in Melrose, Albany, Belgrade, and Cold Spring. They provide services such as transportation, homemaking, chores, simple home repair, and friendly visiting to seniors and people facing difficult life situations. The program also provides respite care, caregiver consulting, and support groups for caregivers. Rural Stearns Faith in Action takes a neighbors helping neighbors approach to meeting the needs of rural communities across Stearns County.