Health partners expand community services in Brooklyn

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), Community Connections TimeBank and the Lutheran Family Health Centers (LFHC) on Dec. 1 announced the launch of the first TimeBank satellite partnership.

This is good news all around in that Lutheran will be able to reach more Brooklyn residents with community services tailored to specific needs, the TimeBank will be able to expand geographically to the Bay Ridge community, and Brooklyn residents will benefit from greater access to services and enriching social interactions.

The VNSNY TimeBank is a way for people to use their skills, share their passions, meet their neighbors, and lend a helping hand. Membership in the TimeBank is free and open to people of all backgrounds, ages and levels of ability. Members earn one “Time Credit” for every hour they contribute helping another member, they can then redeem their credits to receive services themselves.

Dozens of services including assistance with shopping, companionship, computer lessons, minor home repair, tutoring, cooking are given and received by members.

Since 2009, LFHC has been a key partner in the TimeBank’s successful expansion to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. With the creation of this new satellite partnership, LFHC AmeriCorps staff will now be trained to enroll, screen, match and organize TimeBank members.

“Everybody is feeling the pinch of budget cuts these days,” said Kathleen Hopkins, vice president, Community Services, Lutheran Family Health Centers. “Our partnership with the VNSNY TimeBank allows us to provide Brooklyn residents—including our senior population—with a diverse menu of services to help keep them active, engaged and learning new skills. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with VNSNY and be a satellite site for the TimeBank.”

“TimeBanks are based on the idea that everyone has something of value to give,” said Mashi Blech, director of the VNSNY TimeBank. “As the satellite develops, we might see seniors helping young neighbors with their math homework; a teen teaching a senior how to text message; a Wall Street wiz helping an immigrant understand financial documents—the possibilities are endless.”

“Each TimeBank site is like a little United Nations,” said Blech. “Members connect in very human ways, crossing traditional barriers of age, income and ethnic background that might have kept them apart otherwise. Especially in today’s challenging economic environment, there is no doubt that the TimeBank is bringing New Yorkers together in remarkable ways.”

The VNSNY Community Connections TimeBank was established in December 2006 and quickly became the fastest growing TimeBank in more than two decades of this international movement. With more than 1,700 members in Washington Heights, Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and the Sunset Park community of Brooklyn, VNSNY TimeBankers range in age from seven to 98.

Participation is free and open to all, and the initiative is part of the Community Benefit Program established by the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.