Terry Baker, 72, enjoyed a long career with the Federal Emergency Management Agency helping local governments prepare for natural disasters.
But nothing prepared her for becoming a caregiver to her two parents, who moved from New Jersey to Washington, DC in 2000. After her father had a hip replacement and her mother experienced a serious fall, Terry became concerned about how they would continue to manage living independently while she and her husband worked full-time.
“I’m a planner,” she says. “I needed to know where to turn—and I knew to turn to Iona.”
An Iona Care Manager visited Terry’s parents at their apartment, conducted a full assessment, and provided Terry with recommendations and resources for caring for her parents. “It was so helpful to know more about Iona and all the things they could provide,” Terry says.
One day, in 2009, Terry saw a flyer in the mailroom of her apartment advertising a new caregiver support group at Iona. Until that moment, Terry had never thought of herself as a caregiver. “All I knew is that I was really stressed, tired, and feeling a little resentful,” she remembers.
That support group ended up being a refuge for Terry for seven years until her parents passed away. “It was a place where I could vent, share my feelings, and find out that I wasn’t alone,” she says. “It was my go-to place for emotional and practical support.”
Since then, Terry has supported Iona as a volunteer and monthly donor. As a member of Iona’s Safety Net Society, she understands the importance of her investment in Iona’s work.
“Iona staff are lifesavers. I think about all the people who don’t have family or financial resources, people who get meals and groceries delivered, all the elders in isolation. I don’t know what people like that would do without Iona. It’s utterly essential,” she says.
Today, Terry takes comfort knowing that she can always turn to Iona. “Life throws you in different directions,” she says. “There may be a time when I need Iona, and I want it to be there for me and my friends.”