Caregiver Volunteers was founded by Jack and Barbara Devlin who brought the idea to Toms River in the fall of 1991. The Devlins were very impressed with the experience they had with Good Shepherd interfaith Volunteer Caregivers of Shepherdstown who helped Barbara’s father in West Virginia.
After a visit to the National Federation in Kingston, New York, an increased enthusiasm generated Jack and Barbara’s visit to Monsignor Casimir Ladzinski of St. Joseph Church, Toms River, New Jersey where Jack was a member. Msgr. Ladzinski shared the Federation’s video with Sandra Bell, the Catholic Charities advisor for his newly developed Helping the Elderly and Lonely (HEAL) Program with a similar agenda.
The Devlins, with Sandy were then invited to present the concept to the Clergy Association in March of 1992, and from that gathering a first meeting of interested congregations was set. A steering committee was formed, and in April 1992, eight interfaith congregations became the founding members. A mission statement was adopted.
A first draft of articles of incorporation was presented in July, 1992. In August, 1992 the name of Caregivers of Toms River was chosen and in September, 1992 the by-laws were adopted.
In November, 1992 Sandra Bell was chosen as the Director of Caregivers of Toms River. The Caregiver office was opened on January 4, 1993 in space generously provided by St Pauls Lutheran Church at 145 Anchor Avenue in Beachwood, New Jersey.
In 1998 CaregiverKids, our inter-generational program was initiated. Young people from various congregations and the community reached out and provided yard work clean up service in the fall and spring.
In 1999 a satellite Caregiver office was opened in Whiting, New Jersey, where there is a high concentration of senior citizens and the need is great. Seven congregations in the Whiting area have joined our interfaith family.
In 2000, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to change the name of Caregivers of Toms River to Cargivers of Central Ocean County (CCOC). This name change was caused by growth in CCOC service area.
In 2002, Caregivers of Central Ocean County partnered with Caregivers of Lakewood, the Alzheimer’s Association and Visiting Home Care of Ocean County to develop the Alzheimer’s Respite Care Program. This program recruits and trains respite care teams who reach out to families dealing with Alzheimer’s and provides supportive service to both the Alzheimer’s patient and the family caregiver.
In 2003, a new pilot program, The Multicultural Outreach Program was developed. The mission of this program is to enhance the visibility and accessibility of available services, programs and benefits for senior citizens of diverse cultures.
In January 2004, Caregivers of Central Ocean County and Caregivers of Lakewood merged to become one entity. The name became Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey (CVCJ) – A Faith in Action Program.
In 2007, Lynette Whiteman, MS was selected by the Board of Directors to become CVCJ’s Executive Director. Ms. Whiteman, began working at CVCJ in 2002 as the Alzheimer’s Respite Care Program Coordinator and from 2005 – 2007 was the Director of Development. Her experience includes working in Internal Medicine as a Physician’s Assistant as well as many years in Pharmaceutical Research working on drug trials for Alzheimer’s disease as well as other diseases affecting the elderly.
In 2009, The Caregiver Canines Pet Therapy Program was developed. These Caregiver Canines and their handlers bring unconditional love, companionship and comfort to the elderly.
Since 1991, CVCJ has grown from eight congregations, to over sixty congregations and organizations. CVCJ has also grown in numbers of volunteers and carereceivers; there has been growth in the number of events which take place each year. Most of all, CVCJ continues to grow in the amount of love and caring that’s shown throughout our entire program and community.