Hope for the Homebound
By Danielle Koleniak
“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta
Homebound and unable to get to Mass? Unable to get groceries, do every day activities? No visitors and you live alone? Do you need assistance applying for or understanding which community resources you may be eligible for?
Do you need “Books by Mail” or need a load of laundry done occasionally?
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This parish has a Homebound and a Homebound Outreach Ministry that will try to help. We have volunteers that are Eucharistic Ministers that can arrange the Eucharist to be brought to your home.
Along with that, they try to assist with other needs that befall those who are alone or don’t have help that can assist with those functions. The more volunteers there are for this ministry, the better the chances we can help meet the various needs of our parishioners.
Helen Tuffy, along with her group of fearless leaders heads up the Homebound Ministry here at our parish, which provides home visits to bring the Eucharist to those who are unable to attend Mass. For some, it’s the only visit they receive every week. In the past few years, the ministry has grown tremendously. In doing so, Helen noticed a big need. Some people they visit had little to no food, couldn’t pay for their medication or just needed a friend. Today, the Homebound Outreach Ministry works to meet those needs. The ministry volunteers work with individuals on applying for aid or just simply connecting them with a volunteer who is able to play cards with them. There’s little Helen Tuffy can’t do to serve those in need, but as Helen says, the more hands she has in the Homebound Ministry or Homebound Outreach, the bigger the difference they can make in the lives of the sometimes ‘forgotten’ ones.
Koleniak: How did you first get involved with the ministry?
Helen Tuffy: Four years ago, I started as a volunteer who brought the Eucharist to parishioners who were homebound. When I made my visit, I saw needs. Sometimes it was no food, others just needed socialization. That’s when I realized there was a need out there, in addition to the Eucharist. Then the Outreach Ministry to the Homebound came into fruition.
DK: Walk me through what you do as a Eucharistic Minister to the homebound.
HT: We usually get a request from the Church office. We make a phone contact and set up a time to make a home visit. A team of two people often go out for the first visit. We go to Church with a pyx and obtain a consecrated host. We are now carrying the Body of Christ!! What a privilege and an honor.
Before Communion, we may do a scripture reading, say appropriate prayers that set the tone of the visit and we offer them the Eucharist. Then there are prayers of thanksgiving and a blessing.
Visits can take from 10 minutes to an hour depending on the desires of the parishioner. Everyone we visit is different and that makes this ministry so inviting.
DK: Tell me about how this ministry has had an impact on your life?
HT: There was a woman I used to visit who had ALS. She was alone most of the day because her husband worked. She couldn’t speak, so when I would see her we would communicate with the computer by typing back and forth. It was amazing to see her strength. She was so holy and so appreciative of receiving the Eucharist. We had a volunteer see her three times a week. She had such faith and trust in God. She knew she was dying, but she wasn’t afraid. She eventually passed away, but, she was certainly the person who had the greatest impact on me in this ministry.
You get more out of this ministry than you give.
DK: How many people are involved in the Homebound Ministry?
HT: In season, we have between 30 and 35 homebound, right now we have about 20. There are about 15 Eucharistic ministers for the homebound, but we really need 25 to 30 volunteers.
DK: Talk to me a little more about the Homebound Outreach. This is an extension of the Homebound Ministry.
HT: When we make a visit to bring the Eucharist, we try to see if there are any needs we can meet. The best way is to ask “If there was one other thing we could help with, what would that be?”
Some will say they have no food or feel alone with no friends to visit them. Some mention financial issues with difficulty filling out forms, medical issues, or other needs that community resources can meet. We can become advocates for them in the community and try to get them the services they may need.
DK: Why is this something that you want to continue to grow?
HT: We want to assist as many folks as we can to get the services that can make their life more comfortable. One couple that had trouble paying medical bills became eligible for an additional $2200.00 per month after filling out the right forms.
DK: If someone is interested in becoming a Eucharistic Minister for the homebound, what steps do they need to take?
HT: If they aren’t current volunteers with the church, they should contact the Parish Office and ask for Jennifer Engelman to begin the volunteer process. Once completed, they can contact me. They will shadow me or one of the other volunteers until they feel comfortable bringing the Eucharist on home visits alone.
If you are homebound or know someone who is homebound who would like to receive the Eucharist, please call the parish office at 561-2245.
If you know someone who is a homebound veteran, he or she may be eligible for up to $1,950 a month in VA Aid. Contact David Casterioto at
239-344-9852 or David@vetsupportcenter.com.
*If you are a Eucharistic Minister and/or would like to be trained to bring the Eucharist to someone who is homebound, contact the parish office at 561-2245