Take a break from strenuous all-nighters, dull classes and parties. Temple University’s Time Out Respite Program of the Center for Intergenerational Learning isn’t another typical club where members pay a $10 initiation fee and show up for one meeting a semester.
Instead, students are paid $7 an hour to provide relief and home support to families caring for the elderly.
“It’s a wonderful program,” said Rose Cronin, a care receiver who participates with Time Out. Cronin, who suffers from cardiac problems, said when her husband died she missed their walks together. Then Temple graduate Aliyah Muhammed came into her life and she had someone to share conversations, walks and shopping trips.
While most students spent their weekends relaxing, last spring Muhammed took SEPTA to see Cronin, an experience that helped her with her therapeutic recreation major. Muhammed said that her relationship with Cronin went beyond just work.
“We became very close,” Muhammed said.
“Once she surprised me with balloons on my birthday,” Cronin said. And when Muhammed moved to Baltimore for an internship, she even called Cronin to say hello.
Susan G. Smith, director of the Time Out program for the past 11 years, said that special connections are often made between care receivers and students.
“We’re best friends,” said senior social work major Tiffany Bloom of her care receiver Fay Isaacs. The Messiah College student is currently taking classes at Temple. She said her hour commute to Northeast Philadelphia to see Isaacs is well worth the trip. Even though Bloom helps Isaacs to garden and organize, Isaacs described Bloom as a friend with similar interests.
“Something happens when we get older called loneliness, so I really look forward to Tiffany’s visits,” Issacs said. “She is just so pleasant to be around.”
“Time Out gives students a home away from home,” Smith said. She said that many students participate with Time Out to prepare for graduate school or a final practicum for their major, earn community service points and extra money or simply to feel good about themselves.
Smith also said that one of the most memorable outcomes of the program is the impact it has on some students’ choice of career paths, with some pursuing a career working with the elderly. Sonthonax Vernard, a senior accounting and economics major, has decided to focus his business skills in healthcare after his experience caring for a man who suffered from dementia and the removal of two brain tumors. Last year the two would exercise and use the Internet together.
“I would not trade the experience for anything in the world,” Vernard said.
In its 17th year, Time Out is currently assisting 60 families who pay a yearly registration fee of $25 and agree to pay students for their help. Smith said that students work an average of five hours a week and are matched with care receivers based on location and availability.
Students are required to take 10 hours of training, undergo a background check and supply two references. Training is offered three times a year: September, January and May, and requires a crash course on what challenges the elderly face, caregiving issues, medical conditioning and activities. Training takes place on Main Campus, but all area students are welcome to participate.
For more information contact Susan G. Smith (215) 204-6540, or visit www.temple.edu/cil/Timeouthome.htm.
Bridget Maxwell can be reached at email@example.com.