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LSS Caregiver Respite Program wins Touchstone Energy Community Award

The LSS Caregiver Respite Program for Todd and Wadena counties was awarded the 2010 Touchstone Energy Community Award and its $500 cash prize. Shown (l-r) are Iva Thielges, LSS Respite Program coordinator, with Respite Volunteers Janet Dunbar, Menahga, and JoLynn Weaver, Nimrod.

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative recently named the LSS Caregiver Respite and Support Program as the 2010 Touchstone Energy Community Award winner. The award, a $500 prize and a plaque, was presented to Iva Thielges, Respite Program coordinator, during a regular caregiver meeting in Nimrod on Dec. 13.

The Respite Program equips trained volunteers to provide respite service for caregivers. It also offers the volunteers and caregivers education, training and counseling. Thielges said, while most families willingly accept their roles as caregivers to the elderly or those with long-term disabilities, it does take a toll on the physical, mental and emotional health of caregivers.

"Family caregivers need support themselves to continue to be effective caregivers for their family members and loved ones," she said.

Thielges noted that Respite Program volunteers in Todd and Wadena Counties provided more than 3,750 hours of respite time in 2010 to 20 local family caregivers.

"If families had to purchase this service it would equal $52,500 of care, at a minimum," she said, "and the benefits to families is not measurable in dollars; it's measured in reduced stress, increased self-sufficiency and increased coping skills."

Thielges said the $500 cash award would be used in 2011 for additional support and training events. As the local Touchstone Energy Community Award winner, the program automatically contends for the statewide award and its cash prize of $1,000.

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative sponsors the annual Touchstone Energy Community Award to recognize businesses, non-profit and community groups that have shown strong commitment to the community and helped to make the local area a better place to live and work.