Central Indiana is home to enough nonprofit organizations with worthy causes to make an interested donor’s head spin. How to choose one over another? Laurinda Swank believes in following her heart.
“Seniors and children are a soft spot for me,” said Laurinda, 50.
She finds value in CICOA’s focus on the long-term health and safety of its clients.
“They’re not just trying to address that day’s problem. They want to make sure that other resources a person may need for quality of life are available, whatever the issue is,” she said.
Believing in the nonprofit’s mission
Laurinda became a CICOA donor prior to any involvement in caregiving. Working for a local home medical equipment supplier, she was aware of CICOA’s involvement in home modifications to help people with aging in place. In 2014 she and her husband, Jeff Harty, attended CICOA’s 40th Anniversary Disco Ball and made a gift because CICOA’s mission spoke so strongly to her.
The contributions have continued on an annual basis and are made in honor of Laurinda’s mother, Theresa Swank, 79, whose health challenges introduced Laurinda to the caregiver’s role.
Experiencing caregiving firsthand lends a new perspective
“I started to notice some mental decline happening with my mother,” Laurinda said. “I reached out to CICOA about resources, and the care managers gave me some recommendations. We wound up going to the Eskenazi Healthy Aging Brain Center. The assessment showed mild cognitive impairment, and we’ve been working with them now for two years. They gave her things she could do to help her situation from progressing into dementia.”
Unfortunately, her mother stopped following the medical professionals’ instructions.
“She wasn’t doing the things she needed to do to keep her mind sharp,” Laurinda said. “Then COVID hit, and we went into lockdown.”
Now her mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. With continuing guidance from the professionals at CICOA, Laurinda and family at least feel prepared for what to expect.
“Knowledge is power,” she said, “and being connected with resources through CICOA. I have that. I also know I need to have patience. It’s not easy, but it’s easier pulling patience out of me when I understand what is happening.”
Giving thanks for meals and nutrition
In addition to caring for her mother, Laurinda also has become a caregiver for her father, Robert Swank, 80, after an outpatient procedure turned into emergency surgery.
“It impacted his health. He couldn’t eat and had malnutrition, and my mom lost the ability to cook,” Laurinda said. She again reached out to CICOA and was able to enroll her parents in the Meals & More service, with frozen and shelf-stable food packages delivered to her parents’ home every two weeks. “It’s a godsend, to know that there’s nourishing food there,” she said, noting that her father’s health has since improved.
Why she gives to a nonprofit helping people most at risk
As Laurinda’s experience demonstrates, CICOA’s wraparound support services provide comfort and reassurance, and help make life feel more secure. In talking about her ongoing charitable contributions to the nonprofit, she expresses personal gratitude for the assistance she and her parents have received. She also admires CICOA’s expansive vision that serves as a safety net to people who may be struggling to get life’s essentials.
“At first it was getting us connected to the Aging Brain Center and then to Meals & More. I don’t know what it’s going to be next, but I know that I can reach out to CICOA, and they’re going to help me. It’s the kind of organization that gets the broad picture and uses their resources responsibly to have a long-term impact,” she said.
“They’re helping the people most at risk. Those are the things that pull at my heartstrings.”
Whether you’re grappling with caregiving now or anticipate caregiving duties in the future, CICOA is here to provide resources and wraparound support for your journey. When you give an ongoing gift like Laurinda, you invest in CICOA’s long-term impact for Central Indiana families.