Lend a hand to someone else and then get help for yourself through time banking
By Tracy Dye, January 2018
They say time is money, and that’s true with the Columbia Community Exchange Time Bank.
Do you have items that need fixing? Want to share a special skill? Columbia Community Exchange members can find opportunities to help others and themselves in a meaningful and purposeful way.
The program is offered by Columbia Association to facilitate neighbors helping one another through exchanges of services. Membership is free and follows a simple formula, much like a sharing economy: One hour of helping a member earns a Time Dollar, which can be spent on an hour of help from another member. The only cost for items would go to cover things such as gas money for rides or ingredients for someone helping you prepare food.
Margo Duesterhaus became a time banker four years ago after learning about the program.
“I think that the time bank is one of the most awesome things we have in the community,” she said. “There’s no downside to joining and you have the flexibility to use the time bank as little or as much as you want to.”
She has earned Time Dollars by working the information table for Columbia Community Exchange at events as well as helping others set up websites. Those efforts came in handy one winter, when two of Duesterhaus’ large butterfly bushes died and she was in need of some expert shrub removal.
Rather than pay a landscaper, she called on a fellow time banker.
“One of the members had posted that he was very skilled with a chainsaw and loved to use it,” she said. “He completely chopped up those bushes and took the debris away to the dump. I was able to get all this done without spending a dime!”
Bruce Copeland’s membership with Columbia Community Exchange also saved him money — and some stress — when his ride home from the airport fell through the day before he was due to return to Maryland from a trip to California. Instead of calling Uber, Copeland decided to first reach out to Columbia Community Exchange for help. One email blast later, and a time banker responded promptly to offer Copeland a ride.
“We received a message that a time banker could meet us upon our arrival — at 10:30pm!” Copeland said.
Copeland earned it. One good deed deserves another. Copeland has gained Time Dollars by doing home repairs such as installing chair rails, molding and performing minor electrical work.
Columbia Community Exchange helps people learn many of these skills at occasional skill share fairs, which offer helpful hints for do-it-yourself tasks such as basic sewing. The fair also features occasional swaps of unwanted items like tools or small kitchen appliances. Recent events have been held in conjunction with Transition Howard County’s Repair Cafe, where people are invited to bring broken items to be fixed for free, giving new life to vacuums, lamps, toasters, bicycles and more.
Volunteer fixers evaluate and repair the items — and offer advice for items that are too large or not possible to bring to the cafe, such as plumbing or large furniture.
The next Skill Share Fair and Repair Cafe will be held on Saturday, Jan. 13, 10am-1pm, at Emmanuel Methodist Church, 10755 Scaggsville Road, Laurel.