Northampton Press

Sunday, March 29, 2020

TRIAD members learn about Community Exchange

Thursday, May 16, 2013 by EMILY THIEL Special to The Press in Local News

Kathy Perlow told TRIAD members about the Community Exchange program at their last meeting.

Community Exchange is a project of the Department of Community Health and Health Studies of Lehigh Valley Health Network. The nontraditional form of volunteering is funded by The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust.

The program is run nationally, across 40 states, and is a volunteer based "time banking" system, where the participants put in one hour of time to receive an hour of credit to use from other members. Community Exchange is a way to get to know your neighbors, help out where you can and get to learn new things.

"Everything is hour for hour," Perlow said. "Members are valued equally. Time banking fits in most people's schedules."

Perlow uses some of her banked time to take Tai Chi classes.

People who use the program may offer to teach a musical skill, help in the garden, walk a dog or even simply call someone for a friendly conversation.

They can receive the same benefits from other program members.

"Isolation is a really horrible thing," Perlow said. A phone call a day can make a grand difference in someone's life. "We need to start looking out for one another," she said, adding the most requested service is transportation followed by companionship.

Getting to know your neighbors is a key part, creating a network of people within the community.

"I've met so many people who I would have never talked to," Perlow said. "It breaks down barriers."

Community Exchange is active throughout the entire Lehigh Valley and Perlow hopes to get a team of people in every Zip code.

Participation requires filling out an application, providing two references and completing a background check. Participants also must attend an orientation scheduled for 2-4 p.m. the third Monday of every month at the Center for Healthy Aging at Lehigh Valley Hospital on 17th Street in Allentown.

The program currently has more than 650 members who stay in touch and connect with one another through events such as game nights, lunch dates and attending events.

"It's people helping people. We value everybody for what they have," Perlow said. "There's going to be somebody who can use your help,"she said.

To participate in the Community Exchange, call 610-402-CARE