The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, has announced a $100 million commitment — the biggest in the foundation's history — to its national Faith in Action program. The commitment will triple the size of the nineteen-year-old initiative.
Faith in Action makes grants to groups of local volunteers who work together to care for their neighbors who are chronically ill, frail, elderly, or disabled. Volunteers also help those in need with many everyday activities, such as picking up groceries or providing a ride to the doctor. With this assistance, aging and chronically ill members of the community can maintain and extend their independence beyond what would be possible without it.
Nearly ten million Americans currently suffer from serious chronic conditions that prevent them from carrying out many daily activities for themselves. As the nation's population ages, the number of people who develop chronic conditions will increase.
In making the announcement, foundation president and CEO Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., noted the release of a report by Harris Interactive and Johns Hopkins University that found that more than three out of four adults, if asked, would be willing to become volunteer caregivers. In addition, more than 93 percent of those people would be equally or more willing to help if the request to volunteer came from a local house of worship. The study also showed that most of the general public and 45 percent of those with chronic conditions and their family caregivers are not aware that volunteer services are available to them.
"These findings underscore the vibrancy of the great American tradition of volunteerism and the enduring strength of the common ethic of all faiths to care for one's neighbors," said Schroeder. "Faith in Action is a national movement that is inspired by the enormous willingness of Americans of all faiths to join together and help their neighbors in need through local volunteerism."