A concept known as time banking is making a comeback in communities across the world. The concept of time banking is simple: People volunteer time helping others and earn a “time dollar” in exchange for the work they do. A time dollar is an alternative currency to paper money. This time-based currency values everyone’s contributions equally: 1 hour of time volunteering = 1 time dollar.
This revolutionary idea may be simple, but it can move mountains. Instead of focusing on economic status, the difficulty of job skills or cost of an item, time banking can reconnect a society that is inclusive to people with disabilities, people who live in poverty, and elderly.
I connected with a local time bank that serves my county and southern Pennsylvania called the Good Neighbors Time Bank. Good Neighbors is a time bank that is specifically focused on serving people with disabilities. I joined as a new member so I could be connected with other time bank members and start making a difference. To sign up, I visited their website, which reads:
“The TimeBank has three main goals:
- Strengthen the fabric of our community.
- Serve people and give them the means to serve.
- Establish new relationships and meet the real needs of our community members.”
After creating a simple profile, I was able to tell other members what I could offer for my volunteering. I checked off boxes of talents I am willing to share with others … petcare, car pulling, event planning, and tutoring.
On the Good Neighbors website, local time bank events are posted. A time bank that serves a neighboring county invited me to a Pasta Party. I RSVP’d and was excited to meet new people who were passionate about helping the community.
The night of the pasta party arrived, and I sat amongst dozens of new faces, all welcoming me to the time bank community. Throughout the night, I learned the true impact that time banking had on this county. Over the past 15 years, just the residents in the are of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, have exchanged 40,401 hours between members through a total of 11,672 total exchanges. I was absolutely blown away … There were thousands of hours that people had dedicated to each other. The commitment inspired me greatly.
When I got home that night, I logged onto my profile to connect with someone in my time bank. I had recently been having car issues and did not have any idea where I should get help. So, I posted, “I need some help with my car … I would love someone to give me an estimate on how much new tires should be and a suggestion on a good repair shop. Can anyone help?” Minutes later, I get a response back that a man was willing to help me. I was so excited and after our meeting, I was pleased with the car care I received from him. As I sat in my auto shop waiting for my estimate, I was so incredibly grateful I had found a community of people who wanted to help each other. Later, the man told me he used his time dollars on getting someone to walk his dog when he went on vacation.
As the concept of time banking grows, the world started to change. Hundreds of time banks started popping up all over the world. Each community has better economics and happier people due to friendships and less money heartache. Today, there are time banks established in 32 countries, with at least 1,000 timebanks worldwide.
Time Banking had such a huge impact on the community I was living in, and until now I never even knew. This concept should be shared so all can realize that the cost of something may not have to be money, but time and communication. Each person meets new people in their neighborhood, can help those needs, and get things done that they need, too. This has transformed the way communities have functioned for years. Time Banking has truly made kindness an international movement.