I read a story today that warmed my heart.

It was about a St. Charles caregiver named Desiree, who works in our Prineville Family Care clinic, and her 12-year-old daughter Zoe, who was born with an aortic valve that didn’t quite work right.

Desiree always knew Zoe would need heart surgery someday, but a growth spurt accelerated that need to this past summer. The family learned in June that Zoe would need the procedure, and within days it was scheduled for mid-July.

That’s great from a care perspective. But for Desiree, it came with added stress: Not anticipating the surgery, she had used her available time off, and her situation didn’t qualify for family medical leave or short-term disability.

Suddenly, she found herself facing the prospect of a two-week stay with Zoe in Portland, and no paycheck to help cover the bills. For a moment, she thought she might have to choose between accompanying Zoe and paying her rent.

That’s where St. Charles Cares comes into the picture. A fund of the St. Charles Foundation, the Cares fund supports our caregivers who experience economic hardship and are unable to afford housing, utilities or other basic living needs because of circumstances beyond their control.

A colleague encouraged Desiree to apply for Cares funding, and she was awarded $1,500 to help cover her rent, reducing her bills and allowing her to take off work and be with her daughter in Portland, where she could focus on helping Zoe recover. (I’m happy to report that Zoe is doing great, by the way.)

St. Charles Cares distributes about $17,000 annually and is funded by donations from the community as well as our own caregivers, who give generously because they know their money will go to help one of their own when they need it most.

In fact, our annual internal fundraising campaign – Giving Together: One St. Charles – is underway as we speak. If you’d like to support our caregivers and their support of each other, you can do so on the Foundation’s website by using the drop-down menu to designate your donation for “Caregiver Support.”

It is this spirit – caring for each other as we care for the communities we serve – that makes St. Charles a special place. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of it.


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