Community collaboration results in much needed programming in Bastrop

By Kathy Crosby, RN, Wesley Nurse


I have been a Wesley Nurse since 2013. Early on, I learned a main function of the Wesley Nurse profession is assessing the needs of the community in which I serve. Although I work for Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. (MHM), headquartered in San Antonio, my actual work site is at First United Methodist Church in Bastrop. Bastrop is located about 30 miles southeast of Austin and is situated in the Capital District of the Rio Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church – the Rio Texas Conference defines MHM's service area.

During my time in Bastrop, I witnessed the need for a respite program in Bastrop. The caregiver and elderly community was large in heart and might, but severely lacking in support and resources.

I worked with the Alzheimer's Association and Bastrop First United Methodist Church to form a partnership to address the need. Brenda Zimmerman, who later became the volunteer director for the soon-to-be group, made the program a reality. Through her leadership and the commitment of 24 volunteers, the Bastrop New Hope Respite program officially launched on September 25, 2014.

The program is 100 percent volunteer-driven and funded by the generous donations of community members. Bastrop New Hope Respite provides a safe, faith-based environment for persons in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer's and dementia-related diseases, and is offered every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at no cost. Attends receive a snack and home-cooked lunch.

In a relatively short period of time we have already twelve regulars to the group. Volunteers support the group by playing games, making crafts, conducting sing-a-longs, exercising, and bringing in special guests.

To support volunteers and caregivers, I facilitate a Caring for the Caregiver Support Group with Dorothy Williams, LBSW. The group meets every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

I can't put into words the joy I feel when I observe first-hand the fulfillment members of the group receive. Some who were once withdrawn are now socializing with others and now have a place and network to belong to. I believe God's work is at hand in the city of Bastrop.