Camden County Board of Commissioners: Giving thanks – and $1,000 – to caregivers


Camden County Commissioner Ed McDonnell (center) at a recent senior services event

When Robyn Rowe found out she was eligible for a $1,000 grant through Camden County’s new caregiver’s relief program, it seemed like the winds were finally blowing in her direction.

A nursing assistant who worked both in Florida and South Jersey during the pandemic, Rowe was the first person to apply for funds set aside for low to moderate-income caregivers whose jobs helping others put them at risk at the height of the outbreak. The Camden County Board of Commissioners announced its caregiver relief program – the first of its kind in the state – last month at Bancroft, a Cherry Hill-based nonprofit serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurological conditions.

“The grant will help us financially to catch up on some bills,” says Rowe, a certified nursing assistant who now works at Bancroft’s Jacob Schaefer Center caring for adults enrolled in the day program. “But it’s also wonderful to be recognized for the hard work I do with this special group of individuals.”

Robyn Rowe (center) was the first receipient of Camden County’s caregiver’s relief program

The relief program provides a one-time $1,000 grant to those who work as direct caregivers of the elderly, or children and/or adults with disabilities, and whose income has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Money will be distributed as each new application is processed, and the county is set to help 1,200 qualified caregivers.

The county carved the $1.2 million grant program out of $55 million in federal pandemic relief funds earmarked to help hard-hit sectors of the Camden County community, including nonprofits, small businesses and individuals at risk of losing their housing.

“We wanted to identify other core groups that could and should benefit from these funds, and we thought caregivers are the perfect subset of residents and employees throughout the county,” says Camden County Commissioner of Health Virginia Betteridge, one of the program’s primary drivers.

“Caregivers have been on the front lines caring for those in high-risk populations, trying to keep them healthy and safe over the last 2 years,” Betteridge adds. “This one-time financial bump could be meaningful for them.”

Bancroft President and CEO Toni Pergolin says the Camden County caregiver relief program is wonderful for her staff. “They do a difficult job every day,” says Pergolin. “During Covid, when everything locked down and the staff was concerned about their health and that of their families, some going home to children, they still came in. They were just as concerned about the individuals they serve as their own families.”

“Everyone is going through something and the timing is perfect,” she says, noting that she expects to have 600 staff members eligible for the grant. “This will also help them feel recognized for the hard work they do. The county has a lot of needs, and we’re a big provider,” she adds.

Rowe, 43, knows all too well how hard it was to be on the front lines serving others as the world shut down. In the early days of the pandemic, she was working in the NICU at Cooper University Hospital. In early 2021, she and her husband moved with their 3 daughters to Florida.

They never expected they would choose to move back to South Jersey a mere 6 months later, but just as she was starting her new job at a Florida facility, the Delta variant of Covid hit. The family never really had a chance to settle in. Between the hospital’s pandemic protocols and 12-hour shifts, plus remote school for her youngest daughter, a third grader at the time, they decided to return to South Jersey. Rowe was thrilled to start working for Bancroft in November.

“The whole experience was exhausting, and I’m so glad to be back here and working at Bancroft,” says Rowe. “Here I feel safe again.”

“Caregivers provide a critical service to our loved ones and went above and beyond to keep them safe during the pandemic,” says Congressman Donald Norcross. “I applaud the Camden County Board of Commissioners for this innovative and necessary program and am proud to play a part in making it possible by helping to pass the American Rescue Plan. Camden County families can count on me to continue looking out for our hardworking caregivers and those they care for.”

To be eligible to apply to Camden County’s caregiver relief program, a caregiver must provide hands-on, direct assistance in a low- to moderate-income position such as care attendant, caregiver, home health, nurse’s or hospice aide, and work in an institutional setting and/or private home. Caregivers must be residents of Camden County or provide services to residents and must have provided at least 500 hours of essential services from March 1, 2020 to March 7, 2022; and meet other requirements.

“We know as a governing body we are not out of the woods yet and that we need to provide resources to the residents who have been on the front line of this pandemic,” adds Commissioner Deputy Director Ed McDonnell, who worked on the program details with Commissioner Betteridge. “Between the uncertainty in the workplace because of Covid and inflation, we feel that this is an underappreciated population of people who do priceless work for our loved ones every day.”



Virginia Betteridge
Camden County Commissioner

From providing Meals on Wheels to arts classes and health screenings, the Camden County Division of Senior Services offers a wide variety of services and aid programs to support the county’s over-60 residents in every facet of their lives. Throughout the pandemic, Senior Services delivered Covid-19 vaccines and ran hundreds of pop-up clinics throughout the county, just as it has done with flu clinics for the last 25 years.

“Traditional geriatric social work and case management helps not only seniors, but their families as well,” says Commissioner Virginia Betteridge. “In the summer, we hold a fan giveaway for qualifying seniors. For people who are unable to leave their houses and don’t have a computer, we have developed a tablet program.” The Division has distributed more than 200 Claris tablets to homebound (or socially isolated) seniors, including Wi-Fi, and trained them in their use, helping them remain connected to family and friends.

Seniors can connect in person too at the Carol C. Norcross Senior Social Wellness Center in Blackwood. The center is a hub of activity that offers: lunch and nutrition programs, ceramics, woodworking, needlecraft, sewing, painting, board and parlor games, exercise classes, educational and community service programs, health screening information and referral services, social services assistance, daily grocery and personal shopping trips. Seniors get door-to-door transportation to the center from across the county.

With so much to offer, Camden County has recently added a podcast for seniors. Produced by the city’s Dept. of Human Services-Senior and Emergency Services Department, the Camden County Senior’s Golden Podcast explores services that keep Camden running and interview people who have made an impact.

“This is a small slice of the services our dedicated staff provides to our seniors, but we do it because we care about the health and welfare of our citizens,” says Betteridge. “We want to ensure that seniors can thrive in our community and these services go a long way to delivering on that promise.”

Applications for the Caregiver Relief Fund are available now.
The deadline to apply is November 15. For more information, visit
or call 856-389-6704 between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday.