There is a job that millions of people do every day and it mostly goes unnoticed or acknowledged—caregiving. According to caregiving.org, there are an estimated 9.5 million family caregivers in the U.S. as of 2020.
Just in case you are asking what’s a caregiver? They are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins—people, who are taking care of loved ones, who can no longer take care of themselves. Carletta Cole is one of those people who is putting a spotlight on this humble undertaking.
“We will pick three caregivers out of the month to send on a staycation, nail salon, hair salon, whatever that family member or friend decides to tell us about you,” said Cole about her nonprofit, Caregiver Safe Place, Inc. (CSP) nomination process. Through her nonprofit, Cole is rewarding and helping caregivers to feel seen and appreciated.
“If they say you like golfing, then we’ll go to the golf course and see if we can get a package for you for the year so that you have something to do outside of caregiving. One of the days that you choose, we will then pay a caregiver up to 4 to 8 hours for you to be able to take a break.”
Cole understands the demands and responsibility of a caregiver because she was one to her own mother. Originally from Detroit, Michigan with a 19-year stay in Orlando, Florida, Cole now finds herself in Santa Clarita, CA. A hair stylist by trade, Cole’s mother eventually would make the move to California. After a couple of years, Cole’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.
Now her mother’s caregiver, Cole recounted the struggles in navigating her new role, namely taking care of herself.
“I started trying to seek out some type of assistance for my mental health because I was getting burnt out,” said Cole. “I didn’t know there was a such thing as caregiver burnout.”
She couldn’t find any help in alleviating some of stress of being a caregiver. Private assistance can be very expensive costing over $40,000 a year. She was receiving some assistance from her son, but with his work schedule, Cole was still feeling the weight of the matter. Ultimately, she decided to create an avenue, not just for herself, but others, too.
“I just started my own foundation because I felt like I know there’s a need and I just could not stand to know that someone else would be in the predicament that I was then in,” said Cole. Unfortunately, Cole’s mother passed away in 2020, but the experience birthed her nonprofit.
Established in March 2019, CSP is a nonprofit for caregivers where friends, family and loved ones can nominate a caregiver on their website. The nominated caregivers are then honored and presented with a custom package, gifts and respite care. Cole wanted to honor all the unseen hard work and sacrifice caregivers sometimes go through silently.
“You tend to forget about yourself,” said Cole. “You want to make sure that you are keeping up with yourself.”
On Wednesday, September 21, CSP will be throwing a fashion show benefit called Runway to Compassion to raise money and awareness nationally for caregivers.
“We’re going to try and help as many people as we can help,” said Cole, “build teams all over statewide.”
“We need assistance with people that are trying to hit the pavement so we can get some assistance for these caregivers.”
She continued, “Anybody that has a business, that we can assist these caregivers with just getting a break, I would love for you all to contact us.”
Cole understands the life of a caregiver and wants them to know that they have a support system in CSP. She had some advice and words of encouragement that she wanted to share with caregivers out there.
“Mental health, mental health, mental health,” said Cole. “Make sure that at all times, you are able to have a family member or a therapist—someone that you can talk to at all times to let them know how you are feeling, maybe find a group of caregivers.
“She continued, “Please make sure that you take care of your mental health, physical health, emotional health, all of that, before you can do anything to help anyone else.”
Cole asked for the public to make sure when nominating a caregiver that they provide their personal contact information, not the caregiver’s contact information, so it can remain a surprise.
For more information on this organization, to nominate a caregiver or RSVP for the Runway to Compassion event, please visit www.caregiversafeplace.com