The mission of the Respite for All Foundation is to inspire, incubate, and support Respite Volunteer Ministries for communities seeking to minister to persons living with Alzheimer’s and other dementia disorders through education and shared best practices.
“Reclaiming Joy Together!”
“Reclaiming Joy Together!” is the motto of the Respite for All Foundation (RFA) which builds communities of well-being and connection for those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. These volunteer-driven, faith-based, intergenerational programs meet one to four days per week and benefit individuals with memory loss and their care partners. Our small-group activities and social model of care with dementia-trained volunteers require no medical staff.
Our story began in 2012, when RFA co-founder, Daphne Johnston, launched a Respite Ministry at First Methodist United Church in Montgomery, Alabama – creating space two days a week (from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) where people living with dementia and trained volunteers could come together for games, art, music, exercise, shared meals and service projects for the community. Additionally, meaningful worship services for everyone were offered several times a month for those living with dementia and related memory loss symptoms, their care partners and volunteers.
The Respite Ministry was an immediate success and grew to a total of 20 friends participating along with 65 volunteers the first year of the ministry. The program began meeting three days a week and then four, and the team expanded to include assistant director Laura Selby, who launched Side by Side Singers, one of the largest dementia choirs in the faith community across the country.
The program grew to 75 friends served weekly, with 100 active volunteers, and during its first ten years, the local ministry logged over 100,000 hours of volunteer time with two paid staff and served over 800 participants and care partners.
Success came from the enthusiasm for a gathering where people could come and enjoy one another’s company with no labels. All the name tags are the same because everyone is living with life challenges, and none of us needs his/her differences highlighted.
Based on the success of the Respite Ministry, the Respite for All Foundation (RFA) was created to spread the volunteer model of care across the country.
Inspire, Incubate, and Support
The Respite for All Foundation (RFA) was founded to advance the volunteer-driven respite model to improve quality of life for people who have memory loss due to dementia, while offering peace of mind and respite to their caregivers.
The RFA model of care is based on partnerships with faith communities that provide free space and a network of volunteers who offer community and companionship along with evidence-based activities that benefit the individuals served, their caregivers and volunteers. While (RFA) is rooted in faith-based communities, we serve everyone without regard to religious affiliation.
RFA provides the necessary resources and training to inspire and sustain new volunteer respite communities across the country. To date, the RFA has inspired 25 new volunteer Respite programs across the USA that, collectively, have served over 1000 people living with dementia, 1000 care partners and trained over 1200 volunteers.
The RFA model was recognized by the U.S. Administration on Aging as an innovative initiative for dementia in 2016 and 2019 and won the coveted Anne and Irving Brodsky Innovation Grant from the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in 2021. The RFA has also been recognized in the 2022 Innovations in Alzheimer’s Care handbook published by Maude’s Awards.
CARE PARTNER BENEFITS
The need for respite care programs is growing rapidly as the U.S. population ages. Roughly 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease today; by 2050 this number is expected to rise to nearly 14 million.
Care partners who care for a person with Alzheimer’s or another dementia face special challenges and must provide increasing levels of supervision. Many care partners are unable to leave their loved ones with dementia at home alone but do not yet need medical intervention or cannot afford to hire in-home help. There is often growing social isolation for both patient and caregiver as the disease advances.
To address the growing numbers of people living with Alzheimer’s/dementia and the stress of caregiving, we need new systems in place to allow people to remain in their homes longer while reducing burnout. RFA’s community volunteer model of care helps reduce isolation, improves quality of life and shoulders some of the burden for caregivers.
RFA Co-Founder and Executive Director
Daphne Johnston is an advocate for those families living with memory loss, and it’s her personal mission to help families, clergy and professionals better understand that trained volunteers are the immediate answer for combatting the isolation of Alzheimer’s disease.
After working 15 years as an executive director in senior living administration, Daphne Johnston stepped into the non-profit world of the faith community in 2012 when her senior pastor, Dr. Lawson Bryan, asked her to develop a volunteer model to provide support for families living with dementia in Montgomery, Alabama. Together, the two quickly learned a volunteer ministry could galvanize a community and change the culture of how we live among our friends with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The success of the Respite Ministry in Montgomery inspired Daphne to lead a national response to dementia through the faith community, and in 2018, she joined with care partner Warren Barrow to establish the Respite for All Foundation to spread the successful model of care for families living with dementia-related diseases. The RFA is a nonprofit organization that promotes a sustainable model of respite programs that support individuals living with dementia and their caregivers.
Daphne often shares the RFA message online or in-person. She presented the volunteer model in Australia to the International Spirituality and Dementia Conference in 2019 and was asked to keynote speak for the Council of Bishops Conference in January 2020 for the United Methodist Southeast Jurisdiction. She has also presented to such groups and organizations as the Florida Conference on Aging in Orlando, Florida; Giving Voice National Gathering in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Caregivers Conference in Atlanta, Georgia; National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center (NADRC) and American Society on Aging (ASA); DeWolf Family Innovation Center for Aging & Dementia at Mercy Medical Center-Cedar Rapids; and the BOLD Public Health Center of Excellence on Dementia Caregiving.
Daphne has a master’s in gerontology and is the author of Reclaiming Joy Together, a guidebook for “why and how” to begin an RFA community.
Co-Founder of the Respite for All Foundation
Dolores Barrow was an active participant for two years in the Montgomery Respite Ministry and died at the age of 54 from frontotemporal dementia. Her husband, Warren Barrow, had a great desire to spread the Respite volunteer model globally in memory of Dolores and the support it brought his family through the disease. Daphne and Warren co-founded the Respite for All Foundation in 2018 to provide vision, training and education for new Respite volunteer communities across the world.
Founder Daphne Johnston as Keynote Speaker at The Eden Alternative Conference 2017
BOARD MEMBERS AND ADVISORS
to Respite for All Foundation
Former Executive Vice President,
Founder RFA and Executive Director
Former Medical Technologist / Science Professor
Former Catering Sales Executive
Commissioner, Alabama Department of
Mental Health Retired
Dr. Lawson Bryan
Bishop South Georgia Conference
Former Owner of Oak Grove Retirement Community
Retired Business Owner
CPA, Warren Averett
Anne Elizabeth McGowin
Owner, Senior Law Solutions, LLC
RESPITE FOR ALL FOUNDATION INSPIRED COMMUNITIES
(as of 2022)