In 'Time-to-Time' proposal for county, volunteers bank their aid to elderly Driving someone to doctor's office would earn credits to use in future

June 15, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Senior citizens need help from time to time getting to the doctor's office, buying groceries or raking leaves. A proposed Carroll County program would find volunteers to do the jobs and allow the volunteers to earn credits to use if they ever need help.

The concept is used across the country and would be called "Time-to-Time" in Carroll, said Peggy Henderson, the county's coordinator of volunteer services.

This is how it would work:

A volunteer who spends an hour every week driving a senior citizen to the doctor's office would earn four hours of credit a month. If the volunteer or a family member later needed help, the volunteer could draw on his credit to get assistance.

"It's a way of drawing the community together," Ms. Henderson said.

The county commissioners are considering whether to apply for a $10,000 grant from United Way of Central Maryland to start the pTC program. The county would contribute $11,270 to start it.

About 80 similar programs have been set up nationwide in the past three years and about 20 more are planned, said Hunter L. McKay, deputy director of the service banking program at the Center on Aging at the University of Maryland. Rockville has Maryland's only service bank.

Service banks provide help that existing volunteer programs sometimes miss. "They wrap around what exists in communities," Mr. McKay said.

Ms. Henderson said some program organizers are considering a national volunteer service bank that, for example, would allow a Maryland resident whose parents live in California to transfer his volunteer credits to California to help them.

Carroll senior citizens have expressed interest in "Time-to-Time" through an informal survey done last month at senior citizen housing complexes, she said.

About 380 people were surveyed. They said they would like rides to the doctor's office and grocery store, help with light cleaning and people to accompany them at fire company or church dinners, Ms. Henderson said.

Volunteers also could help with "simple" things, such as doing holiday shopping, addressing holiday cards and wrapping gifts, she said.

Ms. Henderson would set up a computerized "service bank" to keep track of volunteer hours and would screen volunteers and senior citizens to make appropriate matches.

The program could serve 200 to 300 senior citizens using 50 or more volunteers, Ms. Henderson said.

In a staff meeting yesterday, the commissioners said they wanted to hear more about "Time-to-Time" before committing county money. They must decide by the end of the week in order to meet the United Way deadline. "I question whether it is worth our staff time," said Commissioner Donald I. Dell, because he believes volunteers would help whether they earn credit or not.

United Way plans to award the grant in October, Ms. Henderson said. If Carroll receives the money, she said, the program could start in January.

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