Taking a Time Out

Maybe it’s time for a time out. Some students aren’t waiting until the holidays to help the less fortunate. They are taking time out of their busy schedules already to provide companionship to those in

Maybe it’s time for a time out.

Some students aren’t waiting until the holidays to help the less fortunate. They are taking time out of their busy schedules already to provide companionship to those in need.

Temple University’s Time Out program allows college students to give companionship and assist the elderly. Fifteen years ago, this respite program was created to give home support to those people who find it hard to help themselves.

“The students relieve some of the burden and stress from care givers,” said program director Susan G. Smith.

Families call Smith to help them find students willing to spend time with their loved ones.

Students go into homes across Philadelphia County and do arts and crafts, read books and play games in order to give the elderly a safe and inspiring environment to live in. They discover the interests of the older adults and invite them to participate in those activities again. Students have done light grocery shopping, helped with meal preparation, been a medical escort and have provided comfort.

To become a Time Out member, students must attend two training sessions, provide two references and have a clear criminal history. Students are paid $7 an hour and are able to set their own schedule.

Students are placed in homes according to their availability and location. They spend about four to six hours a week assisting the elderly and their caregivers. The only requirement is that students are committed to making a difference.

Smith recruits students who are passionate about helping the elderly. “Families are just excited that someone can come in and help,” she said.

Last year students did about 8,500 hours of respite. There were more than 100 families who participated and Smith has received nothing but praises.

Smith recalled a caregiver who said, “Before Time Out, I used to run myself ragged in the mornings trying to get my mom prepared and make sure she was safe.”

Students gain valuable skills in geriatrics and can fulfill community service requirements. “Most importantly, these workers are making a positive impact on someone’s life. Some families are from Temple, work at Temple or just have special connections with Temple and they have found help through Time Out,” Smith said.

Two upcoming training sessions will be held Friday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 31, 2004, where students can learn more about what it takes to become a Time Out worker. Both days of training are required and will be held at Temple’s Service Building in room 405. To find out more about Time Out or to become a worker and provide home support for care-giving families of older adults, call Smith at (215) 204-6540.

Tamara Fisher can be reached at tclef24@temple.edu.

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