CARE & SHARE Program, ‘Walking Alongside’ Those in Crisis!

CARE & SHARE is a Christian support system consisting of members of the Aley United Methodist Church family who desire to "walk alongside" others who are experiencing a crisis. This program was developed because of the number of people experiencing challenging situations that needed support. The Health Ministry team started by sending out a questionnaire to the congregation asking for volunteers for the CARE & SHARE program. The response was overwhelming. These individuals are not trained counselors, but are caring people who want to offer a listening ear because each of them has “been there, done that” at some time in their life. Brochures were created that describe the program to help promote it to church members. Initially we listed the volunteers’ names and phone numbers in the brochure, but have since changed that policy because volunteers did not like having their numbers published. Now we include this statement: ‘If you or someone you know would like to talk with a CARE & SHARE member please call Karen Engel, Director of Caring Ministries or the pastor, to be connected with someone who has faced this crisis before. They will walk beside you and comfort and support you as well as be able to give some guidance.’ The volunteer names and numbers are kept by me and the pastor and we help to match the person in need with a volunteer who has experienced the same challenge.

When a volunteer signs up, they are requested to select areas that they have experienced personally and would be willing to walk with another going through the same crisis. Currently, the CARE & SHARE program lists the following options for selection: cancer of all types, infant death, miscarriage, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s, depression, hair loss, knee replacement, back surgery, divorce, heart bypass surgery, stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, weight loss surgery, substance abuse, nursing home information, and life support decisions.

This program has been around for 12 years or more and it is estimated that our volunteers have served over 100 people dealing with difficult life issues. It is a widely accepted and appreciated program among our members. I personally appreciated the candor and advice as well as the books and info that my Care & Share helper offered to my husband and myself. It really helped me to connect with someone who had “been there, done that” and survived!

Karen Engel
Director of Caring Ministries
Aley UMC