Encouraged, Enabled, Engaged
Note: Just replace 'Community Exchange' with 'Silver City Time Bank'
Jackie, a wheelchair bound 63 year old with Crohn's Disease, showed up at a Community Exchange chronic illness class taught by Community Exchange member Robbie. While at the class she met Dot.
Jackie and Dot were inspired with what they heard and decided to keep in touch and also join Community Exchange together. Darlene and I decided that we would like to become a member of it because Dot has problems and so did I.” Jackie almost immediately took on the roll of mom, mentor or teacher with everyone she met. She became ill at 28 and had many experiences to share and lots of challenges to overcome.
She wants to help everyone she meets to face their difficulties and know that there is help out there.Jackie became the bulk mailing coordinator and immediately got Dot involved in all the mailings. At each mailing she and Dot sit planning a new unique Community Exchange support group they hope to get going in the spring.
At their orientation, they asked if they could develop a support group for people with chronic illness to be structured in a way that people could come and have fun together and plan the meetings as often as they felt were necessary.
Community Exchange encourages creativity so we said to go for it. It will not need professional staffing just the input of all involved. They want the members to decide how to have FUN together and help each other in what ever way is needed.
Also, during a mailing Jackie met Toni. Toni always brought her mom with her because her mom’s dementia prohibited her from leaving her alone. Toni joined CE to find outlets for herself and her mom.
Jackie took them both under her wing. She encourages Toni to take care of herself as well as her mom and has helped her to deal a little better with the tremendous stress of caring for a mother with dementia.
Jackie recalls a phone conversation with Toni. “A few weeks after an incident where I saw Toni very stressed and upset with her mom we were talking on the phone ....she went to a class. I was so proud of her: it was a class on Alzheimer’s. Toni called me up and she said, ‘Jackie I just have to thank you so much’ she said, ‘I’m so glad I went to that class.’ And I said, ‘You know Toni, there’s a class out there for everybody... you’ve got to look for it and you’ve got to go for it.’ There’s a lot of help I’d like to get for myself that I can’t afford but here I find help that I can afford and it’s been very beneficial for me.
"I need something! I’ve always worked all my life and now that I’m disabled I need something I can get involved in. I feel that if I’m doing something for others then its very gratifying for me and I’m just hoping that this program (Community Exchange Time Bank) just keeps going, ‘cause I said to Toni that if people aren’t working together its going to fall apart.”
Jackie is a natural giver but in CE she has been able to find a way to do what is hard for her. Jackie told us, "Now if I can do it myself, I do it, the only one that I can really say that I rely on is Toni. I don’t feel badly relying on Theresa because she just makes it so beautiful, like if I say the weather is really bad I can’t get out, she will offer to come over and take me to my appointment and we’ll stop for lunch. I don’t like people to see that I can’t do something... but with Toni it's beautiful.”
With Toni there is reciprocity. Toni provides Jackie with the opportunity to share her years of knowledge teaching everything from solving problems, cooking, dog training and Toni provides hours of companionship, house keeping and a trusted friend to call on when needed. After a few short months Toni and Jackie have built a relationship that not only includes a friend to call on for services but they have become like a family including sharing Thanksgiving and Christmas
Wheeling into Action
Jon and his wife Doris came to an orientation to see what Community Exchange was all about. Doris came to find a way to get Jon companionship for when she was out working. Jon has a disease that has caused him to be in a wheelchair. He spends his day at home alone. Doris was interested in finding ways that she could help others in order to earn hours so that Jon could receive companionship from others.
During the orientation we explained how wonderful it would be for her to become involved and earn hours for Jon but that Jon would also be able to earn his own hours. They were both a little surprised but went ahead with the enrollment for both of them and soon became very active.
Jon not only can finish any mailing job in record time, he also teaches piano, weeds by getting out of his wheel chair going from section to section in the garden on his hands and knees and provides entertainment for social events. He has also offered to help others rake leaves.
In addition to receiving companionship Jon has also given companionship and a sense of purpose for another member who suffers from mental illness. The two meet regularly and share time and help each other in many different ways. Jon has also shared time with a blind member who loves to sing and is an active participant in most social events. Jon became a member of the lunch bunch group and there he made friends with another couple who now share time with him and his wife playing cards.
All in all Jon and Doris have a network that has helped them make connections that have been very beneficial to them and many others.
It’s About Heart and Spirit
I provided service for Holly. I did yard work for her. Community Exchange is great and I keep telling people about it.
Being outdoors with another person like Holly to talk with was really therapeutic for me and I would recommend to anyone who is feeling sad or depressed to get out and do something for someone else. It kindles the heart and warms the spirit.
My mother will be dying soon and I’ll be attending her funeral. That’s another obstacle I’ll have to face, but I think I’ll pull through with my Community Exchange family.
Beyond a Day in Court
Omar Johnson (named changed for privacy) was a 16 year-old male who had been arrested by the Washington, DC police and was diverted to the Time Dollar Youth Court from the Metropolitan Police Department for disorderly conduct and gambling at the Metro.
After his intake with the Youth Court staff, Omar and his guardian were given a hearing before a jury of teens. The jury sentenced Omar to provide 25 hours of community service, to serve 8 times on the Youth Court Jury (plus two sessions of jury training), and to participate in 8 sessions of Life Skills, a science-based model that uses curricula that focuses on preventive interventions.
Respondents are given 90 days to complete their sentences, yet after two and a half months, Omar had completed only 2 sessions of jury duty and Life Skills and 8 hours of community service. Omar’s mother expressed her strong interest in keeping Omar in the program. Youth who complete the program do not get an arrest record. Also, despite his spotty attendance, she saw the positive effects it was having on him.
Impressed by the commitment of the Youth Court staff and the resources available to the respondents and their parents, Ms. Johnson became involved by helping out at the Saturday hearings as the front desk attendance monitor and assisting during the holiday luncheon.
After a sentence extension, Omar completed his remaining community service hours at the D.C. Central Kitchen assisting with meal preparation at the site. Although it was part of his required sentence, Omar enjoyed his time as a juror, and he would like to continue as a juror, but this time as a volunteer!
Omar was accepted and received full scholarships to attend Princeton University, Hampton University,Salisbury College and Rutgers University. He plans to attend the University of Maryland, College Park for the summer semester and then transfer to Princeton University where he hopes to earn a dual degree in Criminal Law and Electrical Engineering.
The stories here have been drawn from the TimeBanks USA website. They were contributed to the website by affiliate TimeBanks in the United States and overseas to help newcomers to TimeBanking understand the dynamics and spirit of TimeBanking. In some cases, names and details are adapted or changed to safeguard identities and protect confidentiality. A special thank you to the Community Exchange TimeBank in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, which provided all the stories below, except for the final one.