TIme Bank graphic showing people helping each other

In October 2014, I wrote my article on the Village Movement. Originally started in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in 2002, the Village concept arose out of community members’ desire to reside in their own homes while being able to access services that address their changing lifestyles as they become more disabled, as well as create enhanced community. The disabled and elder consumers are driving the Village movement and creating a tailored version for their own aging in place. The original Beacon Hill Village is a non-profit, grassroots, self-governing, self-supporting consolidator of services.  Created by elders, for elders, the Village has three simple components:  It is a membership organization that connects members to vetted, discounted providers and volunteers for any services they might want or need, such as transportation.  It provides members with healthy living programs and services, such as exercise classes, yoga, tai chi, informal lunches, and discounted service providers.  It also organizes stimulating programs, seminars, and trips with the Village community members to support socialization, connectedness, and friendships. At its core, the Village Movement is consumer and customer-driven.

According to the Village to Village network there are over 190 open Villages, 185 developing Villages (34% are urban, 38% suburban, 22% rural, and 6% other), and 25,000+ Village members across the country.  The Boston model was based on housing within close proximity, but there are several models that have been developed over the last 13 years that provide variations of the original model. The core principles of the Village model include a mission to help people remain in their community and in their own homes by providing support and enhancing their quality of life and incorporating a Time Bank for exchange of volunteer services. As a volunteer, you offer your time and talents, whatever they may be, to help a Village member with tasks that seem simple, from changing light bulbs and shoveling snow, to help with bathing or eating, each one can mean the difference between someone staying safely in a cherished home or having to leave it.

So what is a Time Bank? Visit www.timebanks.org.  While volunteerism is crucial to the success of any Village, this business model takes coordination of volunteers to a new level, where members can “exchange time” and earn time dollars for volunteering. This concept, combined with the Village model, is beginning to emerge as a way to create a lower fee structure for Village membership where time “banked” is provided as a part of the membership fee.

The Time Bank is also known as the reciprocity model. This model is based on neighbors exchanging skills, talents, and resources for time rather than money. Time banking is truly a local model that is based upon individuals helping each other out, one-on-one or with group projects. Time dollars are exchanged for services, or donated to a community pool to benefit those unable to provide a service. Members join the time bank for a small fee and schedule service exchanges online. The Village mission of helping Village members to remain in their own homes is accomplished by having members “donate” time dollars to those seniors who are unable to earn enough time dollars on their own. Some examples of Time Bank volunteer tasks are: Yard clean-up & planting; Help with electronic devices; Help with pet care; Organizing closets/garage; Reading to someone; Transporting to doctors office; Cleaning house; Bathing; Cooking a meal, listing only a few.

Here is how it works: One earns a time credit by doing something for a Village member. It doesn’t matter what that “something” is. You turnaround and earn a time credit doing something for someone else in your Time Bank community. For example, an hour of gardening equals an hour of child-care equals an hour of dentistry equals an hour of home repair equals an hour of teaching someone to play chess. The possibilities are endless.

TimeBanks USA, a registered 501c3 headquartered in Washington D.C., was formed in 1995 by Dr. Edgar S. Cahn to expand the knowledge and field of time banking and its impact on individuals, youth, families, communities, the environment, and the world. In 1980, Edgar Cahn created Time Banking (which he first called service credits) as a medium of exchange that would act as a way to encourage and reward the work needed to build strong, resilient communities. As Edgar explained: “Ronald Reagan was withdrawing funding for social programs, they were closing down services. I thought that if there was going to be no more of the old money to support communities, we should create a new one.” The service credits were later named Time Dollars, and later still they took on other names as well, such as time credits and time bank hours. In 1981, Grace Hill Settlement House in St. Louis, MO became the first organization to use Time Banking. The Time Banking movement is spreading across the United States and internationally. It now includes a network of 200+ independent TimeBanks in the United States. 32+ countries have active TimeBanks.

For those who want to be involved on a regular basis or want to assist others in the community and in their homes, become a volunteer and a Village member of N4 – Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada. This brand new nonprofit organization in Washoe County is the first Village in Nevada! It is being developed by Amy Dewitt-Smith at Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada. Contact her at amy@neighbornv.org or 775-313-3210. They are welcoming all persons to help provide fully inclusive programs through a volunteer Time Bank to exchange services, information and referral, and meaningful social activities. What better way to add life to years in our community!