Respite Caregivers Provide Support to Newly Released Mothers, Full-Time Caregivers

July 3, 2018

respite caregiver

Rosie McClurkan laughs as she talks about the disparity between her long-time career as an auditor for the Tennessee Department of Revenue and her weekend work as a respite caregiver for Jonah’s Journey. Despite the vast differences, both areas prove to be fulfilling and fruitful.

“If I can do this, anybody can do this,” says Rosie who describes her work with Jonah’s Journey as warm and fulfilling.

Rosie’s first experience with foster care occurred when she was a child. Her parents served as foster parents and eventually adopted one of the children in their care. Rosie’s exposure to the desperate need for loving, caring foster homes spurred her and her husband, John, to search for ways to be involved in ministry serving foster children. Full-time jobs and lengthy commutes into Nashville keep the McClurkans away from home for twelve hours a day most days of the week.  “We knew we couldn’t do full time caregiver work, but still felt a calling.” says Rosie.

The McClurkans attend Long Hollow Baptist Church in Nashville where Jonah’s Journey originated and were familiar with the program. Their daughter-in-law worked with the ministry for several years as well.  “We inquired and learned about respite care.”

The McClurkans originally planned to offer respite care for full-time caregivers when they went on vacation, fell ill or otherwise needed a back-up caregiver. While they have filled this gap on occasion, they discovered another area of need within Jonah’s Journey: supporting mothers recently released from prison.

People with a prison record often find securing employment one of the biggest roadblocks to creating a more stable life for themselves and their families. Available jobs often require night and weekend work when most daycare facilities are closed.

After completing their certification last year, John and Rosie chose to help these mothers and children through respite care. They are profoundly impacted by the relationships formed in this unusual way. “We get to put hands and feet and arms and hugs to this in a real way,” says Rosie. “And not just for the kids but for the moms too.”

Every other Sunday the McClurkans care for a young boy for ten hours while his mother works. The resulting conversations between John, Rosie and the mother happen naturally and the McClurkans are humbled and delighted for the opportunity to share the love of God with her. She is grateful for their willingness to pour into her son’s life and to watch him free of charge while she works toward more stability and security for her family.

“The wonderful part of this commitment is we’ve been able to take him to church with us every Sunday we’ve had him,” says Rosie. The little boy’s favorite Sundays are when the weather is nice enough to walk to church. They talk about the flowers and birds and everything else they see along the way. When the weather is bad they listen to Bible songs in the car on the way to church.

“You get so much more out of it than you receive,” says Rosie. “It allows us to be the hands and feet of Jesus, reaching those who may not have ever experienced His love.”

Rosie boasts about the support of Jonah’s Journey staff. “They set you up for success. Their love, care and concern for the mothers and babies they support is amazing. They will answer any question you have with a smile and love. They are the most loving and caring souls I’ve ever met.”

Rosie has two simple words for people considering becoming a caregiver: Start today.