Time Bank is Growing in Ferndale
By, Crystal A. Proxmire
Swapping services is a concept that pre-dates money, but a new group in Ferndale is putting a modern spin on the age-old practice of bartering, with the creation of an online Time Bank that will allow participants to give and receive services without cost. Anything from yard work, babysitting, filing, and cleaning to more technical skills like auto repair, plumbing, taxes etc. can be done through the database. They system connects many people, so that services don’t need to be done traded directly.
For example one person might provide rehabilitation services for three hours, and then turn in their “banked” time to have someone else cut their lawn for one hour, and another person help them stuff envelopes for their organization’s mailing to make up the other two hours.
Each person logs their hours into a database controlled by timebanks.org, along with a profile and a list of tasks they can perform for others, and requests for service.
Kim Hodge started the Lathrup Village Time Bank two years ago, and the group has grown to over people. “The only problem that we find is that sometimes people don’t like to ask for help. We’re got this mindset that we’re supposed to do things for other people, but the system only works if people use it,” says Hodge.
To solve this problem, the Lathrup Village Time Bank organizes group projects on the third Saturday of every month. “We get together and paint someone’s basement, or rake leaves, or we find other ways to get together as a group and help someone out with the things that just aren’t as fun to do with one or two people. It’s a great way to meet other people and get things done.”
Ferndale resident Michelle Foster has been working with Hodge to organize the Ferndale group. They are looking for others who would want to take a leadership role in the project. A Time Bank Ambassador is needed seek out new members, while a Membership Coordinator will be responsible for new member orientation and keeping in touch to make sure they are using the system effectively. They are also looking for a Webmaster, and Administrator to handle financing and fundraising, and possibly a Team Leader.
They are also recruiting members. Dues of $30 per person go to help pay for the continued use of the database, as well as administrative costs, though the organization is run essentially through a volunteer board. “We also wanted people to feel like they have a vested interest in using it,” Foster said. After the initial dues, the service-swaps are free. “An hour of one person’s time is the same as someone else’s, no matter what type of work they do.” Because there is no money changing hands, and no direct bartering, the work done is free from taxation.
“It’s a pay-it-forward system, which the IRS considers a moral obligation and not a financial one,” Hodge explained.
The group is steadily increasing its membership through public meetings. Though people outside of Ferndale have expressed an interest in the group, they are keeping it local for now. “There is more of a trust if you keep it within a small community, and people don’t have to go far to do jobs,” Foster said. Although there is the possibility to connect with Time Banks in other cities as the program grows.
“We are creating sort of a movement here,” said Hodge.
On May 8, 2010 more than a dozen volunteers got together to learn more about the program, which now has approximately 15 people signed up.
For more information about the Ferndale Time Bank, go to http://www.ferndaletimebank.org.