CARES Catholic Network
About a year ago Cecile Robert of Winooski fell, breaking her pelvis, scapula and a rib, and as part of her rehabilitation at a local nursing home she needed a walker.
She remembered reading in the bulletin of her church, St. Francis Xavier, about CARES Catholic Network, a ministry that, among other things, provides a medical equipment exchange.
Through CARES, Robert got the needed walker plus a shower bench and a bedside commode – all at no charge.
The ministry saved her more than $300.
“It would have been difficult without a service like this,” she said.
CARES – an acronym for Compassion, Advocacy, Respite, Education and Service – has served scores of people in the three years since it began.
A ministry of St. Francis Xavier Church and of St. Mark Church in Burlington, CARES provides a host of services in addition to the medical equipment exchange including sewing lessons, a fellowship/arts and crafts group, handyman services, home and nursing home visitors, repair of four-wheeled walkers with brakes, parish nurse services and a rosary group. In addition, volunteers pick up baked goods and bread twice a week from a local restaurant to distribute to St. Joseph’s Home and Mount St. Mary Convent in Burlington.
The Francis Center in the former convent next to St. Mark Church is the activities hub for CARES, a ministry that assists people of all faiths.
Sharon Brown, volunteer parish nurse, coordinates the health and wellness ministry. She hopes in the spring to add a beginner sewing class and a knitting group.
She delivers medical equipment to people like Robert, 89, and instructs them in the proper use. The elongated shower bench, for example, is safer because it allows the user to sit down and then lift his or her feet into the tub, reducing the risk of falling.
Items like shower benches, walkers and commodes are donated to CARES for distribution to those who need them, and when the items are no longer needed, CARES asks for them back to offer to someone else.
Donations are accepted but not solicited.
Robert said this is just one way the parishes are helping others: “Doing good: Isn’t that what the Church is all about?”
For more information about CARES or to volunteer or donate goods or services, contact Sharon Brown at 802-922-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Originally published in the Winter 2017 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.