Shepherd’s Place in Fairhope

June 19, 2015


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Here’s a question for you . . . what would you do if someone you loved couldn’t safely care for themselves, yet they weren’t quite ready for full-time care away from home?  You’d be surprised at the number of people who unexpectedly find themselves in the full-time position of caring for a spouse, parent or even a grown child who has a disability.


IMG_0638Not being able to run to the grocery store or even walk outside in the garden for a few moments can be stressful, to say the least. That’s where “Shepherd’s Place” has stepped in to offer relief to those full-time care givers by providing a safe, happy place for their loved one to visit on a part-time basis.


IMG_0598 (1)Above, is Leisa Richardson, RN, who directs the program and provides medical supervision. The respite program is available four days a week and offers a life – enriching experience for those with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Stroke, brain injury or dementia.

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Participants have ranged in age from 35-103 and have come from every walk of life. Homemakers and CEO’s, musicians and real estate agents, memory loss is a thief that knows no bounds.


Shepherd's Place, Fairhope Alabama

At Shepherd’s Place, laughter always fills the room as everyone sings, plays card games, paints and eats a healthy lunch alongside new friends.


IMG_0592 (1)A loyal group of trained volunteers provide friendship and reassurance to the participants. I’ve volunteered with this program in the past and found that at first, the newer members of the program were nervous in this new environment, but because of the wonderful care, they eventually warmed up, and even with memory impairments, looked forward to their days here. Many consider it their “club.”


IMG_0589Shepherd’s Place meets at Fairhope United Methodist Church and is open to anyone in the area who qualifies. Caregivers use their free time to run errands, meet friends for lunch, or even take a long nap. It’s normal to take care of our young children’s needs, but it’s often unexpected when we have to repeat this role later in life. Just a few hours of relief and change of scenery can recharge and refresh both people in the relationship.


IMG_0587The men in the group especially like having a cup of coffee and sharing their life stories, which family members have often heard many, many times. I didn’t get a photo of it, but there is also a secure and gorgeous outdoor courtyard where the participants can sit on pretty days.


IMG_0595 (1)Shepherd’s Place was modeled on another similar program, but is the first of its kind in our area. The non-profit agency was founded by FUMC Director of Caring Ministires, Dr. Ann Pearson, as a program for the entire community.


Do you have a program like this in your area? Have you ever had to care for a loved one with a memory loss issue?


For more information, click HERE to visit Shepherd’s Place web site.

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