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Giving Back: Arc of St. Charles looking to expand service in St. John

By RYAN ARENA
L’Observateur

BOUTTE — There are many selfless, supportive people looking after family members who need some taking care of.

But even those people need a break sometimes. That’s where Arc of St. Charles comes in.

Today, the non-profit agency that provides services to those with developmental and intellectual disabilities has an expanded respite/custodial care program that assists and supports families having difficulties caring for their loved ones.

Services, such as personal care, housekeeping, meal preparation and more are provided in their homes to the elderly and individuals with disabilities. The program is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

In St. Charles Parish, the program has been in existence for eight years. In St. John Parish, the respite program has been in place for the past two years.

Arc of St. Charles facilitator Marie Clayton said the Arc has found many caregivers begin to deal with burnout after an extended period, and the agency developed this program to lend some “brief relief.”

“Often, a caregiver is so devoted to taking care of a family member that they don’t have the time to properly take care of themselves,” Clayton said. “We’ve found this program to be very beneficial in that regard.

“For those needing the care themselves, the ability to stay in their own environment, without having to stay in a nursing home, is something that helps maintain that for them. We’ve received a lot of positive feedback for this program. I feel like we’ve been able to help plenty of people. We’d just like to do even more.”

Clayton said United Way provides much of the funding for the program, with financial help also coming by way of fundraisers and donations.

Currently, the program has helped 75 families in St. Charles Parish. In St. John Parish, where the program is still in its relative infancy, the program offers help to five families — which is all funding will allow at the present time.

Organizers said they are looking to serve more people in the two parishes.

“That’s why we’re looking for support,” Clayton said, noting financial donations provide the biggest lift. “I come from St. John Parish, and I definitely see a need for this work out there.”

Arc of St. Charles has been in existence for 42 years, and as Clayton, who is originally from St. John Parish, notes, helping people with disabilities is its central cause.

Anyone who wishes to refer someone who would benefit from the service may call Clayton at Arc of St. Charles 985-785-0971, Ext. 221, between the 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Those seeking to donate may do so by mailing a check to The Arc of St. Charles, P.O. Box 455, Boutte, LA, 70039.