time bank gives access to services some normally can't afford

"We are all assets," declares the national website of TimeBanks USA, a movement dedicated to building "caring community" economies through an inclusive exchange of time and talent.

Indeed, time can be as valuable an asset as money in terms of the positive impact it has on a neighborhood, says Adam Gifford, director of community involvement at the Stockyard, Clark-Fulton, and Brooklyn Centre Development Office, which, along with its parent Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, is sponsoring a time bank in Cleveland.

The time bank movement works through reciprocation. For example, a landscaper does an hour of volunteer tree-trimming work, then deposits those 60 "time dollars" into his account. When he needs a service done, like getting his dogs walked or receiving help with his taxes, he simply "withdraws" his deposit for the service. There is no monetary value ever attached to any service -- time is the one and only coin of the realm.

"People may not have the money available, but they may have time," says Gifford. "It's about giving people access to services they normally couldn't afford."

Time banks have sprung up across the country. Locally, Kent and Medina are among the communities to use the service. The Cleveland time bank is in its infancy, attracting nearly 100 members putting in about 150 hours of work so far. A program orientation will be held February 26 at The Salvation Army's Clarke-Fulton location, while a Cleveland time bank website is scheduled to go live in March.

The time bank is open to individuals and groups. Gifford views the exchange of skills and services without cash as a method to enrich lives.

"It's a creative way to build a community," he says.

SOURCE: Adam Gifford
WRITER:  Douglas J. Guth
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