The Care Team® concept began in 1985 when CarePartners founders, Earl Shelp, Ph.D. and Ronald Sunderland, Ed. D., joined together to provide a support system of care for a colleague who was diagnosed with AIDS.   The founders started a network of congregational partnerships that could provide compassionate care through volunteer programs using the award winning Care Team® model.

As AIDS became a treatable disease the Care Team® concept expanded to serve persons with Alzheimer’s, related dementia and other challenges of aging.

Today, our programs support the family caregiver and individuals living with memory loss and other challenges of aging.  Our Care Team® model continues to provide quality support through our partnerships with congregations and nonprofit organization across the Greater Houston area.

Our History at a Glance

April, 1985

A young man diagnosed with AIDS asks for help and the Care Team concept is imagined.

January, 1986

Members of Houston congregation begin forming AIDS Care Teams

February, 1987

AIDS Sabbath Observance draws extensive media coverage.

1986 – 1990

Founders Shelp and Sunderland gain attention for their cause through publications, newspapers, national media interviews, and speeches across the US.

September, 1988

Founders incorporate the Foundation for Interfaith Research and Ministry (FIRM) and begin operating as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

By 1993

1165 persons with AIDS are served by Care Teams.


New life-prolonging drugs begin to enable those with AIDS to be less dependent on others. Number served by Care Teams begins to decline.


Board Member, Dr. Paul Gustafson, suggests a redirection of emphasis to persons with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias and their caregivers.

January, 1993

Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church begins first Alzheimer’s Care Team to allow family caregivers respite time.


Northwoods Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church begin Second Family Care Teams to provide in home assistance to the weak and vulnerable.

January, 1997

MDPC, together with members of Memorial Drive UMC pioneers “Gathering Place”, a 3.5 hour twice a month at the church for persons with dementia.


President’s Service Award presented to Interfaith CarePartners by President Bill Clinton in an Oval Office ceremony.

Corporate name changed to Interfaith CarePartners in order to better convey its servant mission.


Brentwood Baptist Church begins Kid’s Pals Care Team, project which was later discontinued in 2016.


Caregiver Conferences and Workshops are offered


Common Ground: Caregiver Conversations introduced as a support group for caregivers.

September, 2011

Southwestern Engery makes our resources available to their employees through monthly “Lunch and Learns”.


Organization adopts new DBA: CarePartners