CREST celebrates 25 years | News, Sports, Work

ABOVE: From left: Jim Anderson, Marty Krause, Florence Hawk and Marlene Hagen were recognized by CREST for volunteering with the organization for more than two decades Sunday at CREST’s Fairmont office.

FAIRMONT-CREST celebrated its 25th anniversary Sunday with an open house at its Fairmont office. During the open day, CREST volunteers and carers were able to tour his office and enjoy refreshments. The organization also honored four of its longtime volunteers, each of whom has worked with CREST for more than two decades.

Rob Stauter is the executive director of CREST and has been with the organization since 1999. He said the event is an occasion to celebrate the work of CREST and its volunteers along with the longevity of the organization.

“To celebrate that we are still here; 501(c)(3) nonprofits struggle,” Stouter said.

Since its inception as an organization that helps seniors continue to live in their homes, CREST has expanded its services and the area in which it operates. Stauter believes that over the course of the organization’s history, it has provided home care to approximately 850 people and works with about 1,000 care recipients across all of its programs.

CREST was originally created in 1997 by the Fairmont Minirial Association after surveys of church congregations indicated a need for transportation, minor home repairs and other services among older congregants. In response to these findings, the group applied for a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. After receiving $35,000 in funding, CREST was established and began working with the Ministerial Association, Lakeview Methodist Health Center, and area churches to organize its operations.

Stauter said the basic model of the organization is more or less the same as it was when CREST first started.

“There’s really no change, there’s more expansion,” Stouter said.

In its first few years of operation, CREST served only individuals in Fairmont, but in 2003 it expanded its service area to include Trimont, Sherburn and other parts of western Martin County. CREST later began operating throughout Martin County. During its expansion, CREST established service groups in each community in which it operated so that care recipients and volunteers did not have to travel greater distances than necessary.

Initially, CREST only offered in-home services, but began hosting regular classes for caregivers and care recipients in 2014. Following the introduction of these classes, CREST also began offering caregiver support groups in 2016.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant disruptions to CREST’s operations. In early 2020, CREST had to cease all in-person activities, except for transportation to medical appointments. The organization later started a phone chain as a temporary replacement for other services, where volunteers called vulnerable adults once or twice a week to check on their welfare and see if they could provide any other help.

Although CREST still conducts regular phone checks for some individuals, operations that were suspended at the start of the pandemic largely resumed in June 2021.

Today, CREST works with local churches and approximately 55 volunteers to provide home visits and other services to over 100 people.

“We are very grateful for our volunteers; they are a great group of people to work with and are always willing to help and lend a hand. … It makes our job easier, but there are still challenges,” Stouter said.

While Stauter said CREST volunteers have always been able to meet the needs of care recipients, they may always need more help. CREST is usually able to process most of the requests for help it receives, but there are times when they may go unfulfilled due to a shortage of people. More volunteers are especially needed in the field of transport as well. One CREST volunteer currently handles most of all out-of-town transportation and will be moving out of the area later this year.

“We always need more volunteers. We’re getting to the point where people are starting to go south for the winter and that’s reducing our numbers, so if anyone wants to volunteer and help people, just give us a call.” Stouter said.

Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox

Leave a Comment