Have you ever sprained an ankle, taken a fall, or come down with the flu and wished you had a friend nearby who could help? Have you moved to a new community, love your new church and really have not connected with anyone yet, but wish you had? Well, Unity of The Villages, Summerfield, Fla., has come up with a program to answer your prayer. It is our PACT. It is:
- Easy to set up,
- Easy to use,
- Easy to maintain and …
- Is a self-empowering tool.
PACT stands for Pastoral Assistance Care Team. It is about supporting one another when support is needed. It enhances relationships, makes people aware of who in their spiritual community lives within two to three miles of them.
Here is how you set it up. From the pulpit, in e-newsletters and in bulletins, the coordinator explains that this is a self-empowering tool. The coordinator invites people who are willing to be of service to someone in their neighborhood to sign up by putting their name, email and telephone number on a clipboard that’s being passed around. The tasks might include running to the drugstore or the market, or driving someone to an appointment.
The admin creates the lists by neighborhood, town, city, suburb, etc. After the admin creates the list, the coordinator looks at the list and calls the people who most likely would take on being leaders of that team. These are the people who generally volunteer and who people know.
The responsibility of the team leader is to coordinate care for an individual who might not be able to do so for themselves. They may have had a heart attack or an emergency procedure, etc. We have two team leaders per team as we have a spiritual community in which many people travel frequently. So the coordinators would alert the team about the needs of an individual. Spiritual community members then volunteer to provide meals, do a load of laundry, clean house, etc.
How is this list maintained? Once a quarter, the coordinator makes an announcement from the platform two weeks in a row, explaining what the team’s mission is and they pass clipboards around capturing new people to the community to be included in the PACT lists.
The admin integrates the new names and all the neighborhood groups receive their updated email lists. Everyone is clear this is a self-empowering tool. If you need help, pick up the telephone and ask, or email a request for help from your group.
We have share-a-dish Sundays the last Sunday of every month. Once a quarter, we sit by PACT groups so new people get to know those folks in their neighborhood. This has worked phenomenally well in our ministry thanks to Karen Donahue, the coordinator, who has made it her ministry.
We have 150 members and we have 190 people who are on our PACT lists! So you do not have to be a formal member of our spiritual community to help one another or be supported. This is a beautiful idea that came straight from Spirit one day when I was writing a paper in ministerial school about visions of my ministry.