Eastside Timebank offers members to exchange services for free and helps build community

When Margaret Schwender broke her ankle a few months ago, she couldn't cook, clean or take care of other household chores that needed to be done.

Kirkland resident Margaret Schwender was part of the task force that founded the Eastside Timebank. She has utilized the timebank when she broke her ankle and in return offered pet sitting and gardening services to other members.

Kirkland resident Margaret Schwender was part of the task force that founded the Eastside Timebank. She has utilized the timebank when she broke her ankle and in return offered pet sitting and gardening services to other members.

When Margaret Schwender broke her ankle a few months ago, she couldn’t cook, clean or take care of other household chores that needed to be done.

But rather than sit around and watch her post-injury to-do list grow, the Kirkland resident utilized the Eastside Timebank to complete these normally easy tasks.

“It was a blessing because (my injury) was around Easter time and I couldn’t put away my Easter decorations,” Schwender said.

Schwender and other members of the Eastside Timebank can request and receive services ranging from housework and accounting to computer tutoring and mending and alterations for free in exchange for services and skills of their own.

Schwender offers pet sitting and gardening services for other timebank members to use.

The timebank encompasses individuals, businesses and organizations from Redmond, Kirkland and Bellevue, but began in Kirkland as a six-month pilot program, which ended in December 2010.

On Aug. 11, the Eastside Timebank will be holding its monthly community potluck and new-member orientation at Physio-Control Corporation, located at 11811 Willows Rd. N.E. in Redmond. The potluck will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by the new-member orientation from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Anyone interested to in joining must attend an orientation with photo identification and provide information for a background check.

For more information, visit www.eastsidetimebank.org.

Redmond City Council member Hank Margeson, who also sits on the timebank board, said he really enjoys the potlucks because it’s an opportunity to meet new people but also get reacquainted with familiar faces.

Margeson added that it’s also great to hear members’ stories and how the timebank has helped them.

OPEN TO ALL

Currently incorporated, the timebank is fiscally sponsored by Hopelink in Redmond and in the middle of applying for its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

Linda Benson (left), vice president of community initiatives at Hopelink, said the sponsorship allows the timebank to utilize Hopelink’s nonprofit status to receive donations, grants and other forms of funding.

Hopelink was part of the task force that founded the timebank. Benson said Hopelink became involved because as a social services organization, they were seeing an increased need in services as well as requests to volunteer. Hopelink wasn’t always able to provide certain services or equipped with the staff to place volunteers, so the timebank was a way of addressing this.

“It benefits everybody,” Benson said.

The way the timebank works is an exchange of services based on time credits. For example, if a person needs to be driven somewhere and it takes two hours, the driver has earned two hours of credit that can be used on any services from any other members the driver may need in the future. Members do not need to make a direct exchange. Any materials or equipment needed must be purchased by the member receiving the service.

In the case of nonprofits like Hopelink, Benson said they can use time credits donated by other members to provide services for people that the organization don’t offer.

In addition, businesses can exchange services to fill a need, such as a hair salon offering haircuts for help in setting up a website, according to Schwender, who was also a member of the founding task force.

While the timebank focuses on Redmond, Kirkland and Bellevue, Eastside Timebank Executive Director Joan Eads said members do not necessarily need to be from these cities, adding that they have members from Woodinville, Bothell and Renton as well.

However Eads, a member living in Lake Forest Park, said living outside of the three main cities may make it difficult because most exchanges take place at people’s homes and people are less inclined to travel further distances.

Schwender added that the timebank is open to people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.

According to Eads, there are about 95 members in Eastside Timebank.

HELP IN THE RECESSION

With the economic recession, many people are unemployed or underemployed and Eads said there is large pool of untapped talent in the region. The timebank can be empowering for them because it gives these individuals the opportunity to offer the community their talents. Eads said contributing and meeting others can offer people a strong support system during tough times.

“It’s really building these circles of support,” she said.

Eads (right) said this is an important part of the timebank because everyone has unique skills and talents to offer that they may not realize — especially people who are marginalized, for whatever reason. She said one of her favorite things about the timebank is seeing people recognize their own gifts and value, while gaining more self-esteem.

Another benefit of the Eastside Timebank is that it offers people the opportunity to receive services that they might not be able to afford.

Margeson said this was something that piqued his interest because it allows people to donate without donating cash, which they may not be able to do.

“Donating time is probably the most important thing we can do right now,” he said.

SOMETHING FROM EVERYONE

Eads said TimeBanks USA, a national organization that provides support for timebanks around the country, helps them keep track of the services offered and requested. According to the TimeBanks USA website, there are only two timebank members in Washington state, including Eastside Timebank, and the other one is located near Olympia.

Eastside Timebank was formed to address the struggles people were facing during the economic recession, but also to help build a stronger community, according to Eads.

It was this idea that also caught Ed Mills’ interest. The Bellevue resident really liked the community-building aspect to the timebank and the idea of connecting with others. He said with exchanges and monthly potlucks, local residents have the opportunity to meet new people and socialize, in addition to receiving services.

“You get a lot done that way,” he said, referring to tackling tasks with others.

Mills also liked that credits are tracked by time, so no one service is worth more than another. He said this makes everyone — no matter what service they provide — worth something.

“I like the idea that an hour’s worth an hour,” he said. “We’re all people…Everybody has something they can do.”

Schwender said the program is all about community building.

“It’s neighbors meeting neighbors,” she said. “It’s about community. It really is about building community relationships.”


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