'The ultimate pay it forward movement'
By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer
People looking to withdraw a favour can head online to the Kingston Time Bank.
Launched in April by two Queen’s staff members, the Time Bank is a service that connects people offering their skills with those who need those talents. Volunteering earns people time, which the Time Bank treats as a currency. All donations are valued equally so if, for example, someone walks their neighbour’s dog for two hours, they’re then entitled to two hours of help to paint their living room.
“People have time, skills and energy to and we wanted a centralized space for finding each other,” says Lara Therrien Boulos (Admissions), who co-founded the Time Bank with Ashley Maracle (Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre). “Not everyone has the funds needed to access certain services; the Time Bank is a way of demonstrating that there are other ways to get those services.”
Ms. Therrien Boulos says the Time Bank has received a positive response early on from peers and people in the community. “It started here at Queen’s but it’s becoming more and more a community organization. Some of the current exchanges are a young parent looking for child care; an instructor offering Spanish lessons; there’s even a registered kinesiologist offering personal training.”
The staff members were inspired by a similar service started in New York in 2006. A municipal health care service wanted to build a support network for patients and their families, and so it created a time bank where people can volunteer their time and get someone else’s in return. The New York Time Bank has burgeoned to 3,000 members, more than half of whom have an income of less than $15,000 per year.
“People in Kingston are ready for this,” says Ms. Therrien Boulos. “A time bank is a great way to build a tight-knit community, one that makes helping others a priority. We have a diverse population with students, seniors and lots of families; these groups don’t often interact with each other and we want to bridge those gaps.”
The Time Bank organizers plan to host more events because people are more likely to make exchanges when they’ve met face-to-face.
“We’re looking for people who want to engage, either by giving time or receiving time. We think the Time Bank is a great way to make connections — it’s the ultimate pay it forward movement,” says Ms. Therrien Boulos.
Those interested in donating or requesting time can find more information on the group’s website.