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Dubuque family, local organizations partner to provide relief to area caregivers

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:00 AM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Theisen siblings know all too well the impact caregiving can have on a person. After all, their father Jim has been caring for his wife, and their mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, for years.

“I think it is really kind of the physical, mental, emotional toll it takes on after years and years of caring for somebody,” Chris, one of Jim’s sons, said. “It might kill the caregiver before it ever kills the person.”

Thankfully for Jim, with six children, he has had help, but Chris said he knows not everyone is so fortunate. That is why Jim has dreamt for years of opening a Caregiver Resource Center in Dubuque, a place where caregivers can go to look for help and to relax.

That vision will now become a reality with the help of Stonehill Communities.

”I think God was just looking out for all of us, and he said, ‘Here it is’,” Stonehill’s president and CEO, Gretchen Brown, said. “We are so thrilled with that.”

Stonehill is currently in the process of hiring a coordinator to run the resource center, and it is also lending the space for it. The resource center will offer emotional support to caregivers, as well as help them find medical or legal resources. Caregivers will also be able to use Stonehill’s wellness center and even schedule massages. The services will be free for caregivers who visit the center, which is set to open within the next two months once a coordinator is hired.

”It is the caregiver we are probably most concerned with because they are absolutely exhausted,” Brown explained. “They have not slept, they are doing this 24/7 with no relief, so the need is absolutely over the top.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, on the other hand, will help Jim with funding the project.

”He (Jim) came to us and said if we could raise a million dollars, he would give us a million dollars,” Shirley Templeton Vaughn, the foundation’s project coordinator, mentioned. “The endowment fund of the 2 million will sustain staffing and support operations and programming for years to come with the annual pay out.”

Templeton Vaughn explained they have found out, through research, that caregiving can cause poverty and high levels of depression on caregivers, which is why putting the resource center together is a community effort, an effort they hope will give back to those that care for others.

”I hope there are not hundreds of caregivers out there needing this, but if there are, let us line them up, come on in and just get one big hug,” Brown added. “Sometimes you just need a hug.”

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