Vitality Respite Center, a new ministry designed to support individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, is now open at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, located at 3315 S. Bryan Rd. in Brandon.

Initially, Vitality Respite Center will be open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and provide a fun, engaging environment for participants to enjoy social, recreational and enrichment activities while their caregivers get a four-hour break. The program is limited to 10 participants a day. In the event the enrollment increases, the program will expand to Fridays as well.

“We’ve been preparing for several months to get to this day, and we are so excited that it’s time to begin this much-needed ministry to support our friends and their caregivers,” Pastor Gary Rideout said.

Vitality Respite Center program director Ginger Heath and over 30 volunteers completed training sessions offered by the Respite for All Foundation (RFA).

“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel but are able to apply best practices that have already proven successful at other ministries,” Heath said. “We have a great schedule of enrichment activities ready to go, and I know our participants are going to see right away that the environment is less like caregiving and more like a thriving socialization and activity center. Having personally been a caregiver, I am thrilled to be a part of this amazing program that can transform lives of both guests and caregivers in such an exciting way.”

Understanding that Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases are progressive conditions, the participants who would most likely benefit from the program are those who can sit in group settings for a long period and are able to feed themselves and move around.

Heath added, “This is not just for our own church members but for others in the area living with a dementia-related disease who would benefit from these social and relational activities.”

Vitality Respite Center is part of a larger network of respite ministries adopting a successful volunteer-based model of care promoted by the Respite for All Foundation to support individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, as well as their caregivers.

The low-cost, high-engagement RFA programs are run by a one or two-person staff together with trained volunteers and are typically sponsored by a church or other community organization. Because the model is a social program, no medical training is required. From one to four days a week, participants are led through recreational and enrichment activities that fill a need for relationships and interaction. At the same time, caregivers get a much-needed break when they are able to leave their loved ones with trusted volunteers for four hours.

For more information about enrolling someone in the program or joining the volunteer team, please contact Heath at 813-204-0014 or

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