The Kent Community Time Bank has grown by leaps and bounds during the past six months, doubling its membership, establishing a governing board and getting its Ohio nonprofit certificate of incorporation.
Abby Greer, program director and coordinator, said she is excited about the many growth-related changes under way in the organization she co-founded in March 2010 with now-former Kent resident Dr. Verdena Lee.
Time banking is a system of exchanging services within a community without the exchange of money. The social change movement values all members’ contributions equally – whether that member is a leaf raker or a physician.
The TimeBanks USA website offers this simple explanation: For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your time bank community, you earn one time dollar. Then you have a time dollar to spend on having someone do something for you.
Since its inception, Kent time bank members have exchanged 4,313 hours of service. That represents a lot of massages given, dogs walked, pies baked, windows washed and foreign language lessons taught (and that’s just a handful of the myriad services offered).
Organizers celebrated when the group hit the 100-member mark in mid-January, then cheered again two months later when the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent became the time bank’s first major organization member.
Since January, the member roster has more than doubled to 221, 15 of which are organizations, groups and merchants. Greer said there are also 30 applicants awaiting activation of their accounts.
Among the new organization and merchant members are Kent Social Services, Habitat for Humanity of Portage County, Haymaker Farmers Market, Kent Natural Foods Co-Op, the Kent State University Graduate Student Council and the Biological Sciences Student Council, Tires & More Kent and FJ Kluth Art Gallery.
The time bank’s growth spurt has prompted Greer to “hire” Kristina Spaude as a coordinator (their efforts are compensated in time dollars) and to establish a board of directors comprised of “people who all have really unique visions for the time bank,” she explained.
Greer also has upped the time bank’s emphasis on education – from holding monthly informational meetings for prospective and new members to hosting a seminar and attending a national time banking conference.
“Our new procedure is to strongly urge people to come to monthly informational meetings where we give presentations about time banking,” Greer said. “So instead of trying to learn about time banking during the monthly potluck, which is the social-networking aspect of the time bank, people can get all their questions answered during the meetings.”
Last week, the Kent organization hosted a visit from Stephanie Rearick, founder and coordinator of likely the largest time bank in the country, the 1,800-member Dane County Time Bank in Madison, WI.
A three-hour afternoon seminar and dinner featuring Rearick was attended by 40 participants, including time bank coordinators from Medina, Akron and Youngstown, as well as one person interested in starting a time bank in Southern Ohio. Rearick also gave an evening talk to about 35 time bank members about her experiences.
Greer will further enhance her own time banking education when she attends the four-day TimeBanks USA National Conference next week in Providence, RI.
“It’s so exciting that I’m going. They have so many workshops that deal with everything from the nuts and bolts of time banking to a project that involves worldwide participation,” Greer said. “What I want to bring home from this are ideas that will speak to the needs in our community right now.”
Even the Kent time bank’s online identity is getting a facelift. A new website is being designed for time dollars by one of the time bank’s newer members, a Web designer.
Greer said the public website will include a calendar of events, a blog, an FAQ section, the history of the time bank, its bylaws and .pdf versions of handouts. The Community Weaver software that represents the time bank’s actual time exchange area will be embedded in the new website for members to log into.
The Kent time bank’s next public event will be the monthly potluck dinner at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 5 at Roy Smith Shelter House at Fred Fuller Park.