Connecting through Sharing Time & Care

Image of a group of 4 people outside. One male wearing a red t-shirt is in a wheelchair and giving a high five to a man wearing a gray t-shirt and light blue jeans standing in front of him. On his right is a female wearing a striped shirt and light pants and another male wearing a light top.

People reaching out to Pathfinder for resources — for persons of all ages with any type of disability or health conditions – make a huge difference for Tennesseans year-round. They use Pathfinder to help someone they know, love, work with, or have only seen from a distance or met once. And now as we approach the holidays when loneliness, isolation, and deprivation can be acutely painful, the time and caring some individuals share becomes an even mightier gift.

It was a mighty gift for a widow in Celina who had stopped going out after losing her husband in the spring; her neighbor noticed and called Pathfinder. “I know it is really hard because I lost my husband too a few years ago,” the caller said. “Got any resources for me, for her?”

Everyone should have at least one neighbor like that.  When one loses a spouse or a loved one, the first holidays afterward can be brutal. It can be especially helpful and needed when friends and family contact one who is grieving and keep reaching out until some of the grief or other barriers begin to dissolve, heal, or disappear.

For the two widows, the Pathfinder coordinator shared the Clay County Senior Citizens Center right away, suggesting a holiday luncheon or festive event could get them out of the house together. The coordinator checked and found that the center sponsors holiday events as many senior centers annually do.

Pathfinder’s Events Calendar and other online calendars — for the town, county, library, churches and other local agencies — are also easily accessed resources for finding just the right holiday events to share.

Working through grief frequently leads people to professional counselors, and the coordinator asked if the caller wanted to share a mental health provider agency or suggest a grief support group with her neighbor, in case it came up. The Mental Health Cooperative has a location in Cookeville, the coordinator shared after doing the research, and it looks like it would be the closest for an individual in Clay County.

Provider listings in Pathfinder have more than one clinician, but the Pathfinder coordinator can use or refer one to a reliable online source to search for an independent counselor. The caller said she would give her neighbor Pathfinder’s number in case she needs more help finding a counselor or if a support group was desired. Just opening doors to appropriate resources which help people in specific situations, has the effect of empowering and encouraging someone to help another. It is not uncommon.

It is also not uncommon to hear from parents and family caregivers who are exhausted because they don’t get any breaks. They don’t have anyone to spell them for a few hours or half a day.  Even when respite funding is secured, many struggle to find a trustworthy and willing person who can give them a break or can work on a regular basis. You can be a person who sees a need and steps up.

You can be that person who is willing to give a little of your time.  You can be the person who invites and includes a child with disability, even though accommodations may be needed at the table or at the party. You can be one of the volunteers at your county’s Special Olympics games next year. Caring enough to share time is such a great gift for anyone to give or to receive. And anyone can afford it ????.

This season, your best gift could be from sharing and caring. It could be from your caring heart leading you to listen and being willing to share some of your time with another person or family. And not surprisingly, people I see who are giving and helping and making a positive difference in our world, always seem to be grateful for the opportunities they find for giving. Sharing time and caring can be a mighty great gift – one long remembered in recipients’ hearts and memories.

Happy Holidays!


Here are some examples of sharing time and caring from people calling Pathfinder year-round:


  • A parent looking for a social skills group because their teen with complex disabilities doesn’t have real opportunities to have fun and make friends.
  • A person looking for a way get a ramp built for her neighbor who has leave a wheelchair and the car in the driveway, to carry a middle-schooler uphill and around to the front of the house where there are fewer stairs.
  • An adult child with a job and children of their own, trying to find in-home assistance for their aging parent, so they can stay in their home safely.
  • A young person anxiously seeking the right mental health facility for a friend, hoping to find a place where they have experience with developmental disabilities.
  • A member of a faith community reaching out to find food resources for an elderly person they met, who has no transportation and no home.
  • A grandparent looking for help for the grandchild they adopted and are raising, because of recurring behavioral problems at school and at home.
  • A teacher looking for a support group for a family they know, whose child recently committed suicide.
  • A caregiver looking for better housing for their patient.
  • A person who learned a neighbor’s HVAC unit is out and the roof is leaking, seeking a program that can help fund repairs.
  • A retiree looking for a volunteer opportunity.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are so many ways to care enough to share your time. Calling Pathfinder or using our resource website for someone is just one way.


Questions and scenarios found in this article represent questions received by Pathfinder but are not taken from actual Pathfinder calls. Actual resource information provided varies based on the specific situation and needs of each individual.