A mutually beneficial arrangement last weekend resulted in two Kent homeless shelters getting six rooms painted and a fence stained by 14 members.
In turn, those 14 timebankers earned a combined 69 time credits to spend on such things as oil changes, massages, getting their house powerwashed, having meals prepared or any of the hundreds of other timebank offers.
The group project was the largest undertaken to date by timebank members. And it was the first time Freedom House, a shelter for homeless veterans, and Miller House, a general-population homeless shelter, cashed in on their timebank membership. Both shelters are programs of .
Cathy Debord, F&CS housing services director, said shelters are 24/7 operations that get a lot of wear and tear. And, unfortunately, aesthetic maintenance projects such as painting often can’t make it into the annual budget.
“Painting is so expensive and with so many people coming through there it needs done regularly, but the cost would be prohibitive,” Debord explained. “We want (Miller House) to feel like someone cares about it and keeps it up like a home. It makes a real difference because it’s much more welcoming to people coming in.”
The timebankers who converged on Miller House last Saturday and Sunday painted the living room, kitchen, four large bedrooms and a bathroom. The only cash expense for F&CS was for paint and supplies.
“The place looks great. It was a lot of surface area to cover and they did a really professional job,” Debord said. “That’s just not something we can budget for, so we really rely on the public to help us out. To take on that much and do it so well, I’m very grateful for the (timebank) support.”
Timebankers also stained and sealed both sides of the tall wooden fence that surrounds the backyard/patio area at Freedom House. The backyard houses the veterans’ community garden, where they raise vegetables for their household, to give to donors as thanks and to share with neighborhood residents.
Matthew Slater, F&CS director of veteran services, said he hopes last weekend’s timebank project was just the first of many to come.
“It’s amazing to have … a system where people can give of their time and then get things that they need from other (timebankers) in return. Talk about American ingenuity,” Slater said. “What a wonderful program and opportunity for non-profits and for community members – it’s really exciting.”
And the presence of timebankers devoting the brunt of their weekend to sprucing up the shelters had an impact on Freedom House residents.
“For a lot of these guys, having timebankers come out and show they care has an impact on them. They saw that this is a caring community where neighbors help neighbors,” he said.
Coordinating the shelter project was Sheri Wild, a timebank board member and coordinator who is also a volunteer at Freedom House.
Not only did the timebankers have fun working together last weekend, Wild said, but they also felt the appreciation of the shelter residents.
“One of the guys from Freedom House came over and volunteered at Miller House, painting with us, which was really cool,” she said.
When the project was complete, participants were asked on the timebank’s Facebook page how they were going to spend the time credits earned over the weekend.
Wild said she intends to cash in on “massages, housework and delicious food and goodies … I want to do some stained glass and have the house power washed too!”
Abby Greer, timebank executive director, replied, “I'm hoping to spend mine on professional face-painting for (her neighborhood) block party, other block party help (food and desserts), help scraping and painting the garage doors and some more curtains made!”
Wild said there are several reasons why group projects are gaining popularity in the timebank.
“We all make an awesome team and it is great fun working with other people to earn time credits,” Wild said. “And it makes (projects) go really fast.”
Want to learn more about timebanking? Attend the next informational gathering at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at .