These stories 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.
DC Youth Court
The Youth Court in Washington DC is a unique experiment to turn justice over to teenagers, not as aliberal fantasy, but as a hard-nosed method of getting peers to reinforce good behavior in a way that thecourts seem unable to do.
Over half the young black males in Washington DC between the ages of 18 and 24 are currently undercourt jurisdiction, in prison, on parole, or on probation. The juvenile justice system is the feeder, thesupply line. The journey starts with a juvenile's first brush with the law and the response he gets.Typically, the prosecutor's office simply 'No papers' the case. They have to deal with hardened criminals,repeat offenders. By the third arrest, a formal juvenile proceeding functions more as a rite of passage.
In April 1996, the District of Columbus courts authorized a Time Dollar Youth Court as a way to divert non-violent first offenders from entering the juvenile justice system. First offenders come before a jury of theirpeers who have the authority to sentence them to community service, restitution, counseling, an apology,and jury duty. Community service includes being an after-school tutor, helping at DC kitchen to feed thehomeless, assignments to resident councils in public housing, and placements with churches helpingseniors.
The Youth Court is successful at reducing recidivism because it provides a forum whereby young peoplecan reinforce messages to each other to be sensible—the opposite of the normal situation.
Jury pools have been set up at six public housing complexes, a public school, and a special charter schoolfor youngsters living in shelters and halfway houses. Because jury duty is now a mandatory element ofeach sentence, there are additional juries composed 100% of delinquents serving a portion of theirsentence. All jurors earn Time Dollars for jury duty, mentoring, and training; dollars they can redeem forrecycled computer. The volume has increased so that now, with between seven and ten hearings a week,the Time Dollar Youth Court is handling more than one-third of the first-time juvenile offenders in theDistrict.
ACES in Action
A Service Coordinator for the Dawn Project called the Time Bank and asked if I would speak to one of hermoms. The Dawn Project works with families who have kids with a mental health diagnosis and who are atrisk of residential treatment. Her child is now stable and the case is moving toward closure. This momwanted to use Time Dollars to build an addition onto her already existing home.
I am used to strange requests but this seemed "off the wall" and I wasn't eager to talk with her. Shehadn't even joined yet, and having just put a room addition on to my own home, I knew she wasn't talkingjust a few Time Dollars but huge amounts of time from lots of different people. I called her the nextMonday morning and began to give her my "song and dance" about the Time Bank and then she gave mehers!
She had already built an addition onto a house, and knew someone to do the electrical and the plumbing.Problem was she had carpel tunnel and wasn't able to lift those huge pieces of drywall up so she could useher nail gun to attach them to the ceiling! She was willing to work.
When I asked what she could do, I was met with home repairs, sewing and patching useable clothing withcartoon characters so they don't look patched, and birthday parties. She loved to give birthday parties forchildren. I told her about our Mentoring Children of Promise program which works with incarceratedparents. The parents could earn the time credits in prison but we needed someone who was able to pull aparty together for a kid so their parents could gift them with a birthday party.
Could she do that? Could she ever! She sent a picture of a cake she'd recently made and an email sayingthat her mom had been incarcerated and her dad murdered when she was 8 and doing this for thesechildren would be a gift and honor for her.
We talked with the ACES members and they will help her with her house. Kids will have parties. The lady willget her home addition. She also is currently working with a woman carpenter, an ACES member, whoneeded some mentoring on building a business. She is earning her hours. One phone call, and I didn'twant to make it...will I ever learn?
It’s a New Way of Relating
In April, after Diane Luszey became a member of Southern New Hampshire Time Exchange, she donated ahalf-hour to Kerry Boggis, a member who was seeking help balancing her checkbook.
For her efforts, Luszey, a consumer benefits manager at the Area Agency of Greater Nashua, earned creditfor a service of her choosing – and not necessarily one performed by Boggis.
The program, unlike counterparts set up in storefronts, is run from the Area Agency on Canal Street. Itwas designed to broaden the social networks of agency consumers whose personal contacts are oftenlimited to family members, social workers and caregivers.
The Boggises and Luszey were among the first members of the local exchange. Leslie Boggis went to themovies with a woman who doesn’t drive, earning a credit she plans to use for another service on the list.Likewise Luszey qualified for a service of her choosing after helping her match.
Exchanges are not direct. Instead, the project promotes a circle of giving and receiving. Members ask forwhat they need – babysitting or pet sitting, music lessons, meal preparation, baking, sewing, car detailing,an oil change and more – and return the favor with one from a similar list of services approved by theagency’s insurance company.
The woman Leslie Boggis accompanied to the movies, for example, volunteered to make a social phonecall to another member recently released from the hospital. Luszey said she was thinking about using herearned credits to ask for a home-baked item she could freeze to have on hand for unexpected guests.
The program is open to anyone 18 and older who provides references, passes a criminal records check,and if offering transportation, passes a driver’s check. Members must also agree to respect each other’sconfidentiality.
"It’s a different way of thinking," Leslie Boggis said during an interview last week at the Area Agency.
Agency colleague Pat Zambri agreed. "Years ago, people used to know their neighbors. If someone had anew baby, you brought a casserole," said Zambri, a developer with Boggis of the exchange. "We don’tknow our neighbors as well as we used to. This is getting to know your neighbors."
To foster the program, organizers said they plan to hold occasional evening socials where members canmeet each other and discuss exchanges.
"We’re hoping members’ enthusiasm will help with sustaining this," said Zambri, adding that the exchangeis supported with grants from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Endowment for Health.
Jaime Andrews, the AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer who joined the agency last week as exchangecoordinator, predicted that once the word gets out, the program would grow.
At the same time, Southern New Hampshire Time Exchange puts a new spin on an old idea."People may be reluctant to ask their neighbor for help if they feel they have nothing to give back," Zambrisaid. "This is not just charity; it’s giving back."
Imagine if you could put all that wasted time commuting on public transport to good use – by learningsomething.
That’s the idea behind the latest Time Bank in London, part of the New Economic Foundation’s London Time Bank network, which now proudly covers buses and trains in South London.
Tutor Commuter carefully matches individuals to people who take the same bus, train, or tube and whocan teach them something they want to learn. The project has been launched at the Evian Brockwell Lido, after a successful campaign run on South London buses. Distribution of over 2,000 fliers attracted 100new tutors via the Tutor Commuter website.
Because Tutor Commuter is a Time Bank, there is no fee involved. The idea is that tutors earn timecredits, which they can use to learn something new and which are redeemable at the nearly 30 TimeBanks across London. Eventually, they will also be accepted by other training providers in London. Youdon’t have to teach an academic subject—you can teach anything from “what it’s like to be pregnant" to“how do I make chocolate cake?” to "how do I speak French?”
People can be matched up in various ways. Shortly, there will be a message board on the Tutor Commuterwebsite where people can advertise things they want to learn or teach. Tutor Commuter will create bi-weekly updates by email or text message listing the latest requests for particular subjects that peoplewant to learn or teach. Also, organizers talk to each person and try and match them up individually.
The project plans to offer online training in teaching and learning to give tutors basic techniques to usewith their partners. Once they have completed a number of sessions teaching and learning, tutors will beoffered more advanced certificated training. Tutor Commuter works with the same safety standards asother groups that match up strangers (like dating agencies). Personal details are never exchanged withoutthe full agreement of all parties, and individuals are encouraged to meet in public spaces, letting friendsand family know about their arrangements."
"Tutor Commuter aims to include as many people as possible, and welcomes individuals from allbackgrounds and levels of expertise,” said organizer and creator Amy Pollard. The hope is that bypromoting and integrating this scheme into their operations, bus, train and tube companies will helptravelers feel safer and more welcome when using their services, potentially attracting new users andimproving their performance.
Sarah Burns,Time Banks UK