Caregivers Ministry offered at First United Methodist in Geneseo

Claudia Loucks
Janie Derr will lead a support group for caregivers at First United Methodist Church in Geneseo.

Those who care for others also need to care for themselves, according to Janie Derr of Geneseo.

Derr is leading “The Caregivers” meetings at 10 a.m. on the third Monday of each month in the church parlor at First United Methodist Church in Geneseo, beginning with Monday, Jan. 17. The group will meet on the third Monday morning of every month unless that Monday is a holiday, and meetings will then be held the second Monday of each month.

She explained the ministry as “a casual meeting of caregivers sharing their experiences with each other.”

There is no cost and anyone interested is welcome to attend.

Derr has a wealth of experience of caring for others and when she and her husband, Mike, moved to Geneseo and began attending First United Methodist Church, she said, “Pastor Chris (Ritter) talked about opportunities of ministry. I learned that there was not a local caregivers group and I do believe there is a need for a support group for caregivers.”

“I think the most important thing for a caregiver is to have other people who will help,” Derr said. “Having family, friends or someone to help is important because being a caregiver is very draining. And if you are the only person giving care, you are not taking care of yourself. First and foremost, caregivers need to take care of themselves”

“People who are caregivers need to have a get-away time, maybe once a week to get away from the situation,” she said.

Her own experience in caring for others began in the 1980’s when Derr began caring for others in home health care as a certified nursing assistant in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She went from home health care to working on the geriatric, oncology and telemetry floor at the hospital in Las Cruces.

“I got out of that field in the early 90’s, but have always had care-giving in my heart,” she said. “I was youth director for St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Las Cruces for a year until we could hire a young person in 1998.”

In 2005, the Derr couple moved to Georgia where Janie Derr began working as a substitute teacher who worked primarily with special needs students at the high school level.

After moving to the San Antonio, Texas, area in 2008, she continued to work with special needs students until her retirement in 2013 when she and her husband moved to the Kent, WA, area.

”I led an Alzheimer’s Caregivers group at the Kent United Methodist Church,” she said “I was asked by persons who needed this kind of ministry and after I took training, I started the group. I am using the same concept for the group at First United Methodist in Geneseo as I did at the church in Kent.”

The couple moved to Geneseo in 2020.