“Charlottesville scores as one of the top places to live, over and over,” declares REALTOR® Kelly Ceppa, an associate broker at Nest Realty. “We are one of the few small cities in the nation that has big-city cultural amenities like art, theater, and education. We also have small-town features like ‘community.’ One fairly new community feature is our Cville TimeBank.”
The Cville TimeBank (CTB) was born as a project of Charlottesville’s Neighborhood Leadership Institute (NLI) Class of 2012. (NLI is a free program which teaches community members how the Charlottesville City government works while providing a chance for people to get more involved in the process. Concerns include development, transportation, and environmental issues; bridging the citizen/government gap; and giving citizens a chance to take an active, informed role in their communities.)
NLI team members Maggie Stein, Katherine Freeman, Charles Childs, and Kathy Kildea formed the core group of TimeBank organizers. Also called “the kitchen cabinet,” they launched a trial pilot project in June 2012.
“We put the word out to a few folks to invite friends and neighbors to help us shape it,” explains board member Kildea, a former probation officer and caterer who now works for a Charlottesville law firm. “We found 50 people right away and they made hundreds of transactions.”
The CTB opened to the community in January 2013. “Using things we learned during the trial-and-error period, we formalized the organization’s structure, established policies, and created a member handbook,” Kildea says. “Today we have nearly 200 members.”
Earlier this year, the CTB gained non-profit status. “We’re all volunteers now,” Kildea says, “but that status lets us look at some funding resources to perhaps pay a part-time coordinator and possibly have a small office. We think this would increase our members’ engagement and reach across the community.”
How does a TimeBank work?
TimeBanking is different from bartering because members calculate the time value of a service, rather than the dollar cost. In addition, members don’t need to swap their time directly with another person. Instead, they “bank” their hours through CTB, then spend them with any other CTB member.
Volunteers like Kildea, for example, gain hours through their work for CTB. “Also,” she says, “I’ve also earned hours giving software instruction, helping in a garden, and teaching someone how to can tomatoes. My oddest job was peeling a ton of garlic for a member with a big food project.” She has spent her earned hours on a variety of services including pet sitting, troubleshooting on her computer, and transportation after surgery.
“The TimeBank has put me in touch with people I probably would never have crossed paths with,” she adds enthusiastically. “There’s an amazing network of incredible skills right here in the community.”
New people are welcome any time. After attending one of the frequent orientation sessions, new members set up a profile and account. The annual membership of $24 can be prorated. “The fee covers the software and also insurance coverage for members—we feel that’s a best practice,” Kildea notes. “If that $24 is a barrier for anyone, scholarships are available where we let the person contribute hours instead of cash.”
In addition, members are encouraged to participate in social events sponsored by CTB. “It’s a chance to meet each other and share ideas,” says Kildea. “For example, the first Tuesday of each month we have drop-in hours—sometimes mornings, other times afternoons or evenings—at Lochlyn House.” (Lochlyn House is a historic property on Rio Road and was recently purchased by CTB members Joanie Freeman and Dave Redding.)
“So much of what we do is on-line,” Kildea point out. “It’s nice to have human-to-human activities like potlucks, our community swap, and coffee chats. The TimeBank is the most rewarding part of my life at present.”
“We love the TimeBank,” chimes in Lochlyn House’s Freeman. “We’ve gotten to know very special folks which we value a lot. It’s helpful to have opportunities to share peoples’ skills on a friend basis instead of a monetary one. It creates a whole different feeling to the interaction.”
Marilyn Pribus and her husband live in Albemarle County near Charlottesville. She garnered a relaxing massage and a month’s worth of lovely homemade bread from two Cville TimeBank members in an on-line, fund-raising silent auction.