LONG BRANCH — Two local nonprofits are promoting a new movement that allows people to network for the purpose of sharing talents and resources.
The Long Branch Concordance Family Success Center and MonmouthCares, West Long Branch, are promoting time banking in hopes of building stronger communities.
“Time banking is a movement that has been growing across the nation and is this reciprocal service exchange between members of a network,” Ashley Lobbato, lead care manager at MonmouthCares, said.
MonmouthCares Quality Improvement Manager Jerome Scriptunas said he has wanted to bring time banking to Long Branch since he heard about it five years ago.
“It has been a fantastic learning experience,” he said. “A lot of us at Monmouth- Cares are members ourselves.”
MonmouthCares and the Success Center are both nonprofits that provide services to families in need.
According to Lobbato, the idea behind time banking is that everyone has some skills or talent that he or she brings to the group. Those skills and talents are then used to help members achieve their respective goals and needs without the use of money.
“Money is tight for everyone these days, and time banking is a way where members are helping each other meet their needs in a safe and structured way, without having to spend money,” she said.
In time banking, one hour of work time is equivalent to one hour of credit, Lobbato said. For example, if a member needs a babysitter for two hours one night, he or she would put in a request, and another member can offer their services and talents to assist that member. The member babysitting would then earn two hours of credit in their bank, and the other would be deducted two hours.
“It works in bringing people together from both a giving and receiving standpoint,” Scriptunas said.
With time banking, no person’s skill is considered more important than that of anyone else, according to Scriptunas and Lobbato.
“Time banking is about taking all those skills and using them in a way to foster a better sense of community,” Lobbato said.
There are five core principles that go along with time banking.
The first principle: Everyone has something to offer someone else.
“All the members have various skills and talents, and they are putting themselves out there and opening themselves up to offer those talents to others,” Lobbato said.
Respect for each other and the community as a whole is the second principle, she said.
“Absolutely no one should be doing something they are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with. It should be a safe way for people to share their respective knowledge and resources,” Scriptunas said.
The third principle: Reciprocity is important in both giving and receiving. Scriptunas said people are often more willing to give their assistance and aren’t necessarily comfortable with asking for it.
“The importance of time banking is that, in the nature of the exchange, people are receiving and giving,” he said.
Scriptunas said time banking is unique in that the exchange doesn’t necessarily have to involve the same people.
“Just because one person might be helping another fix up their résumé, that doesn’t mean that they then have to go and housesit for them for a weekend,” he said.
The fourth principle involves social networks and creating a sustainable pool of resources. With the exchanges, members are growing their personal networks with people who can become lifelong friends, Scriptunas said.
“It’s about creating a sense of neighborhood and community,” she said.
Lobbato said the group currently has 45 members who have exchanged nearly 300 hours of service.
“We have seen a lot of members who have come in, and they end up bringing someone in. And it’s starting to catch on, which is pretty exciting,” she said.
Scriptunas said unexpected collateral benefits are achieved because people are working with their network and getting comfortable with others, and this creates a community where people value each other’s differences.
The final principle of time banking is redefining work so that an hour of time counts as an hour regardless of the type of work being performed.
“Everyone knows how to do something,” Lobbato said. “All work is looked at equally, and no one’s time is less valuable or important than another’s.”
Success Center Executive Director Lisa Wilson said time banking is a great way to exchange services so that everybody benefits, and a deeper sense of community and trust is being built.
“It’s not just about the experience, but it’s about connecting with people,” she said. “You never know who you’re going to meet.”
To join a time bank, visit www.hourworld.org/bank/?hw=1186 or contact Ashley Lobbato at 732-222-8008, ext. 118.
Time banking was started in 1995 by Edgar S. Cahn as a way to foster, encourage and reward the work needed in building stronger communities.