Community Nurse Supports Venice Residents Following Hurricane Ian

Families are continuing to rebuild and recover months after Hurricane Ian decimated our region, and will be for years to come. The need is great and we are providing steadfast support to nonprofit organizations who are working hard every day to make a real difference for individuals in need.

In July 2021, Gulf Coast Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 Community Grant to First Baptist Church of Venice to launch a Community Parish Nurse Program to serve our community. The program successfully provided outreach and support to youth, adults, and seniors. In December 2022, a $20,000 grant was awarded to First Baptist Church of Venice through the Hurricane Ian Recovery Initiative to continue and expand the Faith Community Nurse Program.

When Hurricane Ian hit, the community nurse was able to provide instrumental mental health support to people who were struggling after the storm. The program is helping people who have been impacted by the hurricane, as well as the many volunteers staying at the church who are participating in recovery efforts. The nurse was able to be at the church to support both the volunteers who were helping to rebuild our region and the individuals arriving daily at the church with basic needs including food, power, showers, and resources. Having a community nurse in place when disaster struck has been a tremendous asset locally.

The church was home to Missouri Disaster Relief volunteers for weeks following the storm. In late October, they had 140 volunteers sleeping at the church from 13 states including Arizona and Montana. Volunteers were up at 4:30 a.m. making meals and not finishing until 9:00 p.m. at night. They served 100 plus meals, three times per day, to anyone in need. They collaborated with The Salvation Army Sarasota. They offered 150 showers a day and did 80 loads of laundry a day. Volunteers were also out in the community tarping roofs, cleaning out water-damaged homes, cutting down fallen trees and moving this material to the street, and much more.

“This is the ultimate position for me in my nursing career - to be able to serve not only my community and church, but my God. During Hurricane Ian, I was able to help coordinate the phone banks and got to know some of the volunteers from around the country. I shared what I do with several people and they were so interested in a church having an active nurse to help in various ways. I would love to see other churches rise up with a Faith Community Nurse. Any local nurse who would like more information can always contact me,” said Cindy Charland, RN BSN, Faith Community Nurse. Currently, Charland is teaching an eight-week health class open to the public called "New Start." February is Healthy Heart Month and the church will be providing blood pressure checks every Sunday for anyone who wants to stop in. 

The community nurse also conducts outreach in the community, for example advertising on Main Street in Venice for programs on dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. She provides healthcare, counseling support, palliative care, and more. She is part of the team traveling to people’s homes checking on their mental and physical health needs post-hurricane.

“In a time of crisis, when people need help the most, this nurse and program were available and accessible at no cost. We are honored to partner with First Baptist Church of Venice to provide critical support that has been helpful in assisting with local recovery efforts. We are so grateful this was in place when Hurricane Ian struck,” said Director of Community Leadership for Gulf Coast Community Foundation Jennifer Johnston.

Together, with our generous donors and community partners, real assistance is being offered to Hurricane Ian victims, some of whom lost everything after the storm hit.



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