Mildred Howard (right) has always worried about older sister Jessie Fulwood, who lost her sight as a child. Those worries increased when Mildred, who every day drove across town to check on her, discovered Jessie was being neglected by her caregivers. It was then that Mildred invited Jessie to move in with her and her husband.
Soon after, in 2007, Mildred enrolled Jessie, now 78, in Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center. “Jessie Mae needs to be in a program rather than sitting at home all day with nothing to do,” says Mildred. “The people are real nice, she participates in activities such as art therapy and exercise which she wouldn’t have access to otherwise, and two nurses monitor her blood pressure.”
Jessie took Metro Access by herself to and from Iona. However, in April 2012, Metro Access failed to pick up Jessie at home as scheduled, and that was “the last straw” for Mildred. She could not bear the thought of Jessie traveling alone on transportation that is unreliable. She took it upon herself to escort Jessie as often as she could manage, which was three days a week, with a long commute on three public buses each way.
Mildred is a loving and devoted sister, but having to provide an additional two days of full-time caregiving when Jessie was formerly at Iona five days a week became exhausting and debilitating for her, according to Iona’s social workers. Jessie herself missed the stimulation and independence she enjoys at Iona. The solution, one that had immediate and profound impact, was a generous grant to Iona from The Edes Home Foundation which covers 100% of the cost of a reliable, safe and comfortable private transportation service.
Thanks to The Edes Home Foundation, Jessie is able to participate in the Wellness & Arts Center, which enriches her life and gives her independence. In addition, Mildred is experiencing respite from the stress and challenges of caregiving.
Written by Susan A. Messina
Iona’s Director of Development and Communications, Susan holds three master’s degrees, including two from Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive.