In just two short years, members of the have exchanged a whopping 10,000 hours of service. And, along the way, the organization has become a “community” unto itself.
That ever-growing community is made up of more than 315 people from all walks of life who hail not just from Kent but also towns such as Stow, Alliance, Peninsula and beyond. Among those members are more than a dozen businesses and organizations.
Timebanking is a system of exchanging services on an hour-by-hour basis without the exchange of money. The types of services offered and requested are as varied as the members themselves. The social change movement values all members’ contributions equally — whether that member is a leaf raker or a physician.
Abby Greer, coordinator and co-founder, is thrilled with the Kent timebank’s continual growth and the related positive changes she sees happening in people’s lives.
“We’re building community, building trust – it’s working,” she said.
The organization’s monthly potluck dinners have become such popular gourmet foodfests that the Roy Smith Shelterhouse at can barely contain the attendees.
This month’s potluck — a special two-year birthday celebration — was held at the , where ukulele and hammered dulcimer students of musician and timebanker Tina Bergman showcased their newfound skills.
It’s during such social gatherings that Greer and fellow coordinators Jayce Renner, Kristina Spaude, Dana Nolan and Sheri Wild get to hear about and share stories of great timebank transactions and the resulting relationships.
“The potlucks, which are open to everyone, not just members, are a great place to find out what it’s all about and to meet people who are actively timebanking,” Greer said. “The timebank is building a caring community and, as esoteric and weird as it sounds, that’s what you’re coming into at a potluck. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true.”
Wild, a 20-year Kent area resident who joined the timebank in October, views the organization as an extended family that has enriched her life.
“In the first two months after I joined, between the potlucks and the exchanges with the amazing people in the timebank, I felt more sense of community then I have the entire time I lived here. As a matter of fact, more then I felt living anywhere,” she said.
Wild has earned scads of time credits by house cleaning, installing a printer, serving as a fitness partner and hosting social events known as crops at her house. In turn, she has spent time credits on massages, getting mulch spread at her house and having meals prepared for her diabetic father, among other things.
“If you are unsure about time banking or think it is too good to be true, I challenge you to give it a try,” Wild said. “You have zero to lose and I would be willing to bet, once you (join), you won’t want to leave. It is truly life changing.”
Greer recently shared a testimonial on the group’s Facebook page that was written by a stay-at-home mom who just one year ago, before joining the timebank, felt alone and overburdened.
“If your intention in starting this group was to build community, you have succeeded beyond measure. It's so much more than a way to get your cabinets painted or your oil changed — it’s a way to improve your quality of life,” the woman wrote. “I'm so grateful for (the timebank), the services it provides, but mostly for the wonderful circle of neighbors, friends and what now feels like family.”
Greer said increasing member familiarity has spawned a new trend within the timebank community: group projects. There have been house cleaning parties (seven or eight people can get the job done in two hours!), a garage painting party, a rock raking party and a mulching party where a handful of members spread three yards in under an hour.
Wild is among the fans of group projects. “I think group projects are my favorite because people get together, work hard and have fun while they are doing it. I have loved getting to know everyone I have met and look forward to getting to know those I haven’t yet,” she said.