TIME OUT by Lucy Stark Sutton
THOUGHTS FROM A SUPPORTER
Having been born and raised here, I moved back to Gainesville in 1995 and was promptly recruited into the Soroptimist Club by longtime Soroptimist member AND Time Out Director, Evelyn Yeatts. As a Soroptimist, I learned and grew, made friends and renewed friendships, served and was served, and found the Time Out program to be a most unique service project of all Soroptimist Clubs of which I was aware. Soroptimist of Gainesville still gains notoriety for this much-needed and highly unique project.
Time Out was always such a joy for me to serve and observe. As a Soroptimist member, you were asked to bring lunch for Time Out participants and volunteers on a rotating schedule. I can’t think of a time – ok, maybe once – that I brought lunch and didn’t stay to serve, join in the activity and personally witness how very special four hours every Wednesday with these VERY special people were. The participants love the reminiscing activities, arts and crafts, music, puzzles, and of course, the FOOD. The volunteers love the sheer joy experienced by participants and giving the caregivers a bit of well-deserved respite. Most importantly, the caregiver gets a planned four-hour span of time to do anything they want or need, or nothing at all. Time Out gives peace of mind to the caregiver; love, respect, and safe healthy activity to the loved one; need and purpose to the volunteer. Most of all, Time Out gives JOY to all three.
I personally experienced Alzheimer’s in my family, however, I was not the primary caregiver. I was aware and knowledgeable of Time Out and encouraged the caregiver – an even closer loved one – of its significance and its ability to make a difference to caregivers and loved ones of Alzheimers. Walking the rope of respect and personal knowledge, I tried (and tried) yet wasn’t able to sway my loved one to let go for the good of all…even for four hours on Wednesdays. It’s sometimes hard to do the best thing for someone when you’re so close you can’t see the full picture; you’re simply doing the best you know how, putting one foot in front of the other, day after day. BUT the caregiver can seek help or listen to a trusted friend or loved one to help them see the “forest for the trees.”
To be a better caregiver is to care for yourself every chance you can. Time Out offers the most trusted peace of mind for caregivers and their loved one I have ever seen. Ask me – or ask anyone who has participated or volunteered in the program’s 30+ years. Four hours a week can make such a difference to you and your loved one.
Time Out is totally funded through donations, supported by the Soroptimist Club of Gainesville. Texoma Area on Aging, and the Stanford House. It is a weekly program, giving 4 hours of respite to caregivers each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is free to participants. Lunch is provided for participants and volunteers.