I first heard of the Center for Respite Care a few years ago when a friend of mine asked me if I would consider supporting the Center financially. Before I made any committment, I first wanted to check the place out so I made an appointment with Mrs Mary Beth Meyer, the Executive Director, and she took mw on a tour and explained the mission and goals of the Center. I had the opportunity to meet the Medical Director, Dr. Bob Donovan, as well as other members of the staff. Two things stood out immediately to me; the first was the dedication and committment with which each staff member went about their duties; the second was the the total respect and courtesy with which each staff member treated every resident. Most of the residents are homeless, many of them are suffering from addictions of every type, all of them would be classified as living in the margins of our society. Yet every one of them, including the more difficult ones, were treated with the utmost dignity, care and concern by the staff Of course, I did not see or experience all of this on my initial visit. But that initial visit with Mrs. Meyer impressed me so much that not only did I agree to offer some financial support to the Center, I also decided to volunteer some regular time doing whatever I could to help. Over the next few years I was privileged to see the Center's staff in action and was even more privileged to meet and interact with many of the residents. Their stories often inspire and amaze me. Certainly their stories have helped me to break the stereotypical mind-set that homeless people "just choose to be homeless and live the way they do because they are too lazy to get a job." They truly have taught me and have given me far more gifts than I have ever given them. The staff work very hard at helping the residents reconnect with family, if possible. If not, many of the residents are given the opportunity of moving into taerlow rent apartments in the area and are made aware of services to help them start over. Many of them have taken advantage of those opportunities and have begun new lives.
I have been a volunteer for a number of years at the Center for Respite Care. My request as a volunteer was to bring my dog, as I knew the therapeutic value of this. They welcomed him with open arms. And the clients connected with my dog in a great way. Many were so happy to just sit and pet him, others told stories about their own pets.
Other ideas have also been met with much enthusiasm. This is a staff who is willing to listen to new ideas and plans. If it will benefit their clients they are open to it
It is a privilege to volunteer here.
Some unfortunate things happened to me recently which made me homeless, penniless, and in need of medical attention at the hospital. I had to have my toes on my left foot amputated because of an infection. During my 12 day stay in the hospital I was extremely depressed, nervous, anxious and had a feeling of hopelessness. I didn't know what would happen to me after I was released from the hospital.
I talked with a hospital social worker who told me of a place called "The Center for Respite Care" a homeless shelter for people who have medical issues. I agreed to fill out the paperwork to see if I was accepted there and I was.
On June 14, 2013, I left the hospital and was brought to the Respite Center. I was scared, nervous, and was running a gamut of emotions. My mind was put at ease when I met the staff. They made me feel welcome and told me not to worry, they would take care of me.
Here at Respite Care, you get three meals a day. Your meds are given to you by a nurse, your vitals are monitored, toiletries are furnished, bus tokens are provided as needed and if you need a ride for an appointment staff members will drive you there. The staff helps you get drivers license, social security card, birth certificate, cell phone, and medicines. If there are any costs Respite pays the fees.
I was in need of a pair of tennis shoes and one of the staff members took $50 out of her own pocket and paid for them. I was driven to a store by a staff member and got the shoes. I was humbled by the gesture and almost cried. It is as though God works thru the staff members. Also I was able to get a free eye exam and free eyeglasses with Respite's relationship with an eyeglass local. I needed these glasses in the worst way.
At Respite Care they have clothes that you can look through and take what you need. They also work with me and other clients filling out any forms for services I may need. One nurse brings in a home cooked meal once a month and her cooking is excellent and all of us appreciate it very much. The nurses and personal care assistants treat all of us with respect and give us individual attention whenever we need it.
There is also Dr. Donovan who comes in 4 or 5 times a week to take care of the clients and especially myself. In addition the staff finds you housing that fits your needs and preferences. They also assist you in finding jobs. To me, Respite Care is like a mini "heaven" I have no worries, I do not need money because there is no cost to the clients. I am no longer depressed, anxious or unhappy. I feel that I have been given a new start in life because of the Center for Respite Care.
I cannot thank the staff enough for all the TLC they bestow on me and the other clients. When I become healed and able to work again I will contribute to Respite Care by volunteering and donating $ or in anyway way that helps them succeed. Thanks again Respite Care and may God Bless your effort....Tim 7/3/13.
The Center for Respite Care is a unique, awesome organization that provides a much needed service in the Cincinnati community. The staff is great and I have always enjoyed volunteering there - especially at Christmas time. Most of all, I am impressed with the difference CRC makes to the homeless clients in improving their lives. The organization deserves a lot of credit!
My family and I have volunteered a few times at the Center for Respite Care in the past. Recently, I began volunteering on a weekly basis teaching a chair yoga class. The atmosphere is so welcoming and I am always grateful for the time I spend there. They are doing a wonderful job!
I volunteered for the Center for Respite Care in 2010 through 2011. The organization is doing an exceptional service for the community. The staff provided exceptional care and they demonstrated a great commitment to those they served. I was lucky enough to talk with many of the patients. They told me over and over again how grateful they were for Center of Respite Care.
I've been a volunteer and a donor for almost 10 years. My first time volunteering was on Christmas Eve of 2003. A group of us came down to the center to sing Christmas Carols for the patients. We had a wonderful time, and enjoyed our conversations with the men and women staying at the center. The patients seemed very touched by our visit and expressed their deep gratitude. The staff was very welcoming and made us feel like we were part of the family. I looked forward to coming back and helping out any way I could.
I volunteered doing mailings and some of the patients would help out too. I also had a chance to serve meals and help with a picnic. It was always enjoyable and everyone was so appreciative. The most memorable parts were always the opportunities to talk with the patients. It was obvious how much they loved being at the center. They seemed to enjoy my visits and having someone to talk to about ordinary things rather. I've met some really amazing people and have a very different understanding of being homeless than I did ten years ago.
If you want a really rewarding experience, I highly recommend volunteering at the Center for Respite Care. If you're looking for a place to donate and know your money is being used well and making a huge difference, this is the place.
I was a patient at the Center for Respite Care. I had a serious respiratory infection, and at the time I needed oxygen. Doctor Donovan and the nursing staff were really wonderful. They took very good care of me and they treated me with respect and concern. When I came to CRC, I felt hopeless. I had no sense of direction for my life. I had no vision of what my future would be like. That changed because of the wonderful people at CRC. Now I have a positive outlook on life and I want to help them by advocating for them.
I have been a donor and volunteer for many, many years. It warms my heart to see how the staff works and cares for the clients at the Center for Respite Care. Whenever I have been down to help out for just a short time, the warmth and appreciation from the clients is so sincere that it just makes you want to be more involved.
I have been involved as a donor and volunteer for at least 5 years.This nonprofit may not be well known but it helps homeless individuals in restoring their health and transforming lives.
There is a sense of true caring from the staff and continued thankfulness from the clients.
Respite Care is a wonderful place to volunteer because it will change your life!
Great results happen on a shoestring budget!!
As a long-time donor, sometime volunteer and former board member, I continue to marvel at the combination of warmth and compassion with effective medical treatment and comprehensive strategies for moving clients out of homelessness--and doing so much with always-scarce resources. Volunteers are always welcomed, well-utilized and appreciated fully. They can see and feel the impact of their efforts.
I have been a volunteer chaplain at the Center for Respite Care for four years. Walking in the front door, you immediately feel at home and part of the family there. My service is valued and appreciated- Everyone there, client or staff, volunteer or donor is treated with dignity and respect. What is accomplished there is amazing- talk about a continuum of care, practically seamless. They are responsible stewards of their financial and human resources. This is a wonderful place and I am proud to be associated with them.
I'd like to share a letter written by a fellow board member of the Center for Respite Care. He died in 2011, shortly after writing this letter. RD
"My name is Alonzo Cockrell. My life would appear to be as normal as anyone else. I grew up in College Hill and graduated from Aiken High School, where I played the trombone and also played football. I was married for 17 years and have two beautiful daughters, ages 13 and 23. But I also have a different story. My hope is that you will find it inspiring and a wonderful example of how Center for Respite Care changes lives. I can say that because I lived here.
"I worked 19 years for the same employer. I never needed insurance a day in my life. Never took any medications other than aspirin for a headache. And then one day I got sick. I was told I had congestive heart failure, and my entire life turned upside-down. I lost my job, my home, my car. I had absolutely nothing, and was hospitalized. When the nurses asked me what my medical recovery plan looked like, I told them I had no idea — I was homeless. They suggested the Center for Respite Care, a place that could help me with my situation. I accepted.
"I remember everything about my arrival at Respite Care. It was a cool evening in September at 5:45. I remember arriving feeling fearful and alone, in a building full of strange people I didn’t know. I’d never been in a situation like that, and it was intimidating.
"After admission, my biggest struggle was accepting my diagnosis: I’m a big, healthy guy, and now doctors were telling me I would have to take 13 pills every day if I wanted to live! All I could think of was that I was fine a couple of months ago, and now I’m not?! How was I going to pay for all this medication? What was I going to do?
"And then I met Dr. Donovan. He played the biggest role in helping me accept my diagnosis. His endless encouragement helped me understand that in order to see another day, I had to stick to a daily regimen of medication. With his guidance and the support of the staff, I recuperated. They taught me how to live with my heart condition. I learned what I needed to do to be healthy. I was guided through the process of moving into a Respite Permanent Housing apartment. Though I had been denied twice for SSDI (Social Security Disability Income), staff helped me re-apply. I was able to file an appeal and now have permanent SSDI income. They helped me navigate the often complex processes to make sure I could afford my medication. The staff at Respite Care provided me a way out of what I was trapped in: sickness and homelessness.
"I consider myself one of the lucky ones: I’m here, I’m living - I am blessed with this community, I’m continuing on and I want to give back. One of my biggest joys was being asked to serve on the board of Respite Care where I advocate for clients. I listen; I know what they’re feeling; I hear what’s on their mind; I ask about their long-term outlook. They are alone and isolated, and I can offer hope that they will recover. I make a difference, and that’s important to me.
"I’d like to leave you with this last thought about Respite Care: never let it go away. It’s the best place many people have never heard of. Please tell my story to others; shout it from the seven hills! Let them know how critical Respite Care is to our community. They’ve impacted my life and the lives of many others. I know that I speak for them in expressing my gratitude!"
I was a second year med student at University of Cincinnati Medical School when I spent the summer helping out at the Center for Respite Care as part of UC's Urban Health Project Program.
The Urban Health Project originally appealed to me because I wanted to learn about the social and healthcare services available to underserved people of Cincinnati and to probe my interest in working with those less fortunate. When offered an opportunity to help out at the Center for Respite Care, it seemed like the perfect mix of healthcare and social work; of applying what I learned in school and expanding my boundaries. While every day I saw and heard about things that we had covered in class, the new experiences were what made the summer truly special. I saw a side of the city that is seldom examined and easily ignored. I learned so much about caring and compassion, helping and healing. I would be hard-pressed to think of a better way to have spent my summer than helping at the Center for Respite Care.
Respite Care acts as a safety net for sick homeless individuals in the Cincinnati area. It was opened in 2003 to provide a safe place for homeless people to heal after hospitalizations. By allowing proper recovery time, repeat hospitalizations are reduced which reduces the burden on hospitals, taxpayers, and, most importantly, the patients. But simply allowing for healing wasn’t enough. Since opening, Respite Care has grown into a place where someone experiencing homelessness can not only get back their health, but also their life. While at Respite Care, clients work with the social service staff to connect to existing social services in the area and obtain food stamps and general assistance; birth certificate and ID; and housing. Since people with a disability but no income generally don’t qualify for other housing programs, Respite Care has its own housing program that pays clients’ rent with money from HUD while helping them find a job or get on disability income.
My duties seemed to number as many as the services Respite Care offers. At different times throughout the summer I assisted with client transportation, moving clients in and out of permanent housing, client education, client job placement, housing, tech support, grant writing, manual labor, grocery shopping, and prescription pick-up. All of these tasks were rewarding and educational in their own way. Driving clients to doctor’s appointments allowed me time to talk with the client and hear his or her story. I was able to see common conditions such as diabetes, HIV, hypertension, and get to know the person behind the illness. Writing grants allowed me to understand Respite Care’s impact on the community. Working with clients to find jobs gave me an understanding of the obstacles this population faces to living a normal life.
Toward the end of the summer I spent a lot of time with a particular client, trying to help him find a job. He was willing to do any sort of work, and we applied for many jobs together, in addition to the applications he completed on his own. He is a high school graduate with some college experience and a recent degree from a computer training program. But 25 years ago he committed a felony, and now he can’t find anyone who will hire him. Whenever possible I would take him to apply for jobs in person. I could call him anytime of the day, let him know I found a job opening and that I was going to pick him up soon. He’d say “Sounds great, see you soon, I’ll be watching for you.” Sometimes they told him in person they don’t accept applications from ex-felons; other times they’ll accept the application and never call. But regardless of the outcome, he’d be just as motivated and excited next time we’d go to apply somewhere. This sort of perseverance is not uncommon for Respite Care’s clients.
By far, the most memorable part of the summer will be the people of Respite Care. This includes present and former clients, the staff, the volunteers--everyone who sets foot in the door seems to be injected with a tireless energy (that’s not to say that coffee isn’t frequently consumed). From the first day of the summer, the dedication of the people here to their work was apparent. The doctor and nurses to providing excellent care; the social workers to helping clients get back on their feet; the administration to providing the support necessary to make these things happen; the clients to healing, improving their lives, and bringing other clients along with them.
This truly is a special place. It was no surprise to me when I learned that Respite Care has a profound effect on reducing healthcare costs for people who are homeless. With the quality of the people here and the work they are doing, no other outcome could be possible.
From these people, I will take away a new understanding of what it means to care for a person and a patient. To try your hardest and do your best for someone even when you know your efforts might be fruitless or go unappreciated. To go the extra step to do something that will truly change a person’s life for the better. To have patience when working with a person who has smoked for thirty years and never held a steady job, while they quit smoking and get a job. These are lessons I could have learned no other way, and things that will stick with me long after I have left Respite Care.
It’s not very often that you are placed in a facility where you can say you like the entire staff. When I came to the Center for Respite Care I was extremely depressed, close to suicide. I couldn’t have been placed in a better place. It is a very homey atmosphere. There is someone to help everyone.
Staff go the extra mile to help the clients be happy and spirit-strong through their recovery. On days when you are blue, at least one staff person cares enough to brighten your day. They make recovering easy. No matter what your illness all of your needs are met.
It is a safe and clean environment. You never go to sleep at night feeling bad, it’s their goal. You are provided with three well-balanced meals and one snack each day. All of your medication is there as needed. Your clothing and personal needs are there as well. We have individual activities that are required of us each week as well as group activities. Last but not least, we have fun and do a lot of laughing.
I recovered in more ways than one. One thing I know is my life of homelessness is over. Hats off to the clients and staff of Respite Care. We worked well together. This was our safe haven, our home until we got our own.
I was a patient at the Center for Respite Care and now I’m living in the Respite Permanent Housing Program. There are simply not enough words I could write to express my gratitude for all they have done for me. The kindness, compassion and care I received from the entire staff are things that I will never forget. I never felt like a patient. I felt like I was part of a family, which was something I was missing in my life. Smiles every morning, taking me out to get a winter coat or helping me get my needs met I will always be thankful for.
Each and every person on the staff touched my life in a special way and for that I am grateful. Every day, they save lives, not just with medicine but with their hearts. I’m proof of that.
With their help I have a home of my own, food in my cupboards and clothes in my closet. The Respite Care Family is a true blessing to the Cincinnati area. With a warm heart and a smile on my face I say “Thank You”.