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ShareTheCaregiving: a program of the National Center for Civic Innovation

Background (How STC was born)

The story behind Share The Care™ began on March 15th, 1988, when twelve women, including the authors, got a call to come to a meeting to try and find a way to help their friend Susan cope with her worsening cancer. They sat in the first meeting with Susan’s friends, neighbors and co-workers (mostly strangers to each other) they never dreamed where it would lead them.

When Cappy and Sheila arrived that night they had two very different viewpoints:

Susan Farrow

Susan Farrow

“I was terrified. I knew Susan had had a bout with cancer but she told me they ‘got it all’ and I wanted to believe it as much as she did. Susan was a divorced, working mother of two girls. She couldn’t be really sick. She was strong and successful and my peer. I had never grappled with sickness, death or dying, mine or anyone else’s. I had never taken care of anyone and I didn’t know how.” ~CAPPY

“I was relieved. Being Susan’s best friend, I had been there from the beginning … through her additional surgeries, hospital stays, treatments and recuperations. Simultaneously, I was the sole caregiver of my elderly mother and I had just put her in a nursing home as I was no longer able to give her the care she needed. Not only was I wracked with guilt I was also exhausted beyond belief. My work suffered and my personal life was nonexistent.” ~SHEILA

Over the next three and a half years this group stayed together and took total care of her. They cooked, shopped and did errands. They checked her in and out of hospitals, took her to doctor’s appointments and kept track of her medications. They laughed and cried with her and even organized her daughter’s wedding six months before she died. They became known as “Susan’s Funny Family.”

susans_funny_family

Susan’s Funny Family

It might have ended there, but it didn’t. Six months later, they helped organize another group for Francine, a friend of Susan’s, who also had cancer. Francine’s group went on to be in operation for even longer than Susan’s and raised over $100,000 for her medical treatments over the course of her illness.

The power and impact of seeing another group of strangers become “Francine’s Funny Family” inspired the originators of this method to document their caregiving system in a book called Share The Care™.

francine_cina

Francine Cina

“As we talk to the people who are using our book and to the people who have been helped by it, we still can’t believe what we started.” say Cappy and Sheila. “The Funny Family” experience has taught us a great deal about love and compassion and connected us to the larger human family in unexpected ways. The book is a practical guide. The stories behind it and around it are an inspiration.”

In the early years following the release of Share The Care, in December 1995, it quickly became the roadmap used by caregiver groups all over the country and adopted for programs by universities, disease specific organizations, faith communities and community groups.

STC was the subject of articles by: The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping. Redbook, and Modern Maturity.  Sheila and Cappy were thrilled to be invited to write a piece for the website for Bill Moyer’s “On Our Own Terms” TV special. The authors were interviewed on Orlando’s “America’s Health” channel and the “Home and Family” channel in Los Angeles. (See THE MEDIA)