Trio hopes to keep the homefires burning

By Meg Olson

A trio of local women are working with the Circle of Life cooperative in Bellingham to create a network of caregivers on the Point to help elderly residents stay in their homes while creating local jobs.

“We have a vision of providing income for people while filling a real need to help our seniors stay on the Point,” said organizer Annelle Norman. “The service would not only be available to seniors but also families and other people who need help.”

Fellow organizer Chris Cameron had put together a team of caregivers to allow her mother, Mary Irving, to remain in her Point Roberts home until she died, and she knows the Point has the caring people needed to help seniors.

“My dream is to have a co-op of trained caregivers here in Point Roberts to help others the way my Mom was cared for,” she said.

The key is connecting those in need with those who can help them, and Circle of Life, a worker-owned caregiver cooperative, does that. “The coordination would come from Circle of Life, which already gets calls from Point Roberts on a regular basis,” Norman said.

The local group would become a Circle of Life branch, receiving coordtrioination, training, licensing and bonding through that agency. Caregivers can join the cooperative for a one-time fee of $300 that can be paid off through payroll deductions.

For those who don’t have sufficient training, training is available for $600, with scholarships available, and caregivers can start to work while they are still in training.

Clients will arrange services through Circle of Life. Caregivers can provide personal and household services, from bathing and dressing to laundry, meal preparation and errands.

Norman said she was drawn to the project from her own participation as part of Irving’s care team. “It was so rich and satisfying for me,” she said. “The joy of spending time with our elders and gaining a different perspective.”

Dina Boykiw, the third project organizer, said besides being a local employment opportunity, the project would be a meaningful chance to give back to the community. “I’ve always had a dream of providing care for orphans,” she said. “Well, Point Roberts will have more elderly orphans that need care.”

Norman added that creating a safety net would help her, as well as others, plan for their later years on the Point. “It will be a peace of mind,” she said.

On Wednesday, November 12, the group will hold an informational meeting at the community center beginning at 7 p.m. The meeting will share information with potential caregivers and those who might need services, but also gauge how best to adapt the program to the Point.

“We’re hoping to create a hybrid version, combining paid caregivers and on-call volunteers,” Norman said. “That meeting on the 12th will inform everything for us.”

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