Time sharing's like money in the bank

'We all have skills to share': Monroe County startup grows in first month, Pike page is ready to go

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Getting started: First, build a community

As a teacher, Dr. Julie Fagan doesn’t like tests. She’d rather encourage her students to learn about a problem of their choosing and figure out how to fix it through community action. Now, with time banks, she’s doing the same thing on a national scale.
She teaches “Ethics and Science in Society” and “Issues and Animals in Agriculture” at Rutgers University and is helping to organize time banks as part of a program partially funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s multi-state Community Health and Resilience Program.
So far she has set up websites that include start-up information for every county in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.
Most people don’t realize how many skills and talents they have to offer, she said.
The greatest need now is for people to serve as coordinators for each time bank. They can earn time with phone calls connecting people. Then it’s a matter of getting people to sign up.
To build a membership, she said it’s important to have regular get-togethers and pot luck dinners.
“Get to see the person, see who they’re talking with,” she said. “It’s a way to build companionship and trust. It’s the same as if you hired someone — you’d ask for references for things like babysitting and elder care.”
And as members of the community come to know each other better, she said, trust builds, as well as a genuine sense of community.
“Just start somewhere,” she said. “If you have young children and have a play group going, they could start something.”
Seniors, too, can benefit from time-sharing. For example, they can get help with repairs or rides to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment. And in return they can offer babysitting, cooking, or companionship.
Time banks can be devoted to a neighborhood with participation from businesses, church groups, and non-profits. Fagan says non-profits can use time banks to give or get recognition and have their volunteers give something in return. Businesses can use them to get greater exposure and make new connections.
Fagan said she’d be happy to speak with people about setting up a time bank. Training, though not necessary, is available for anyone who wants it.
“A time bank builds a sense of community,” Fagan said. “And it makes you happy.”
More information:
Call Julie Fagan at 610-847-2411 or email juliefagan@yahoo.com or countystatestrong@gmail.com.
Call Dagmaris Cabezas in Monroe County, Pa., at 570-445-4292
To see how a time bank works, check out the Jan. 15 Time Banking segment on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, available on youtube.com (search: “Diane Sawyer’s hometown in Kentucky saves money by helping each other out.”)

By Ginny Privitar

a — Dagmaris Cabezas was surfing the net.

“I was Googling about bartering and ran into this totally new concept about time-sharing,” she said.

Excited about the idea, she contacted Dr. Julie Fagan, who was listed on the website she found, and offered to be coordinator for the time bank in Monroe County, Pa.

Cabezas said for someone like her very involved in volunteer activities, time banks present "a wonderful opportunity for linking those involved in the community who want to serve."

Fagan said time banks , also called community exchange networks, enable their members to exchange skills, talents and services with time, not money, as the currency. For every hour a member invests in helping another member, an hour goes into his or her “time account.” That hour may be spent on any service offered by any other member.

“Everyone's time is valued equally," Fagan said. "An hour’s time provided by a lawyer, plumber, electrician, landscaper, housecleaner, hair stylist, therapy dog handler, baby sitter, or someone who can simply spend time to help someone else, is banked as an hour."

A member might want to work on a community playground.

A proprietary computer program is used to post members’ needs and the services they're willing to provide, and to keep track of everyone’s credits, she said.

"The more members," she said, "the greater the pool of services available to everyone.”

Members have used email, Facebook and Linkedin to get the word out. A brand-new Pike County website has been set up at http://community.timebanks.org/timebanks/pike-county-pa-strong.

In a little over a month, the Monroe County time bank group acquired about 22 members, including a video expert, handyman, artist, jewelry maker, grant and press release writer, and caregiver. Others offer help with pet care, shopping and errands.

Cabezas said the Monroe group will make a presentation at a breakfast meeting on Thursday, June 5, at the Monroe County Transportation Authority in Scotrun, Pa. For more information or directions call 570-445-4292 or email: mares.consultants@gmail.com.

Cabezas has offered to help anyone in Pike County who wants information on how to start.

“The nice thing about time banks is there’s no cash involved, and every hour is equally valued," she said.

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