To create this series of coordinator narratives we will be interviewing coordinators throughout the Timebanking world.
We are kick-starting this series with the narratives of the three TimeForAll founders: Kathy Perlow, Abby Greer, and Stacey Jacobsohn. Here is Kathy’s narrative.
photo by Christine Gray pictured: Abby Greer (left) & Kathy Perlow (right)
Quick as lightning, Kathy Perlow can ground TimeBanking in just three words: “Friends, love, and family.”
Passionate about improving healthcare — for Kathy, health is more than just a visit to the doctor’s office — it is building a community of knowledge and support — a community of people.
Kathy is full of stories about people — almost 3,000 of them and all of them about TimeBanking — but for her, Rose’s story stands out.
With a dialysis three times a week, Rose believed she had nothing to give, but Kathy knew otherwise.
What Kathy discovered was that Rose paints — not landscapes or portraits but beautiful pysanky eggs. And while Rose brought out her paintings to show Kathy and some goodies to munch on, it turned out she was a fabulous baker as well!
“Can you do some classes for us?” Kathy immediately asks. And Rose did.
How It Began
Kathy, herself, first became involved in TimeBanking in October of 1999 after hearing about the organization working part-time at the Lehigh Senior Center. She researched what it was all about, found an open position as the part-time data coordinator, and eventually became the TimeBank coordinator.
However, because Community Weaver was partnered with a large health care network, she was constantly caught between the impersonal and personal spheres — the rigid structure of the institution and the world of the family.
“I was a hospital employee yet doing community work. How do you make those two meet?…It taught me to bring it out into the community and let it house in the community….It cannot be run in an institution like that. It needs to be really community driven.”
Starting the Mutual Aid Network
With this idea in mind, Kathy left Community Exchange to co-pilot Mutual Aid Network, an organization based on the TimeBanking core values but housed fully within the community.
According to its website, the Mutual Aid Network: “focuses on social, spiritual, cultural, educational and economic assets instead of just “needs” and problems that divide us. We recognize that poverty, social isolation, ill health and injustice exist and the approach of a Mutual Aid Network is to harness the energy of participants so that individuals, families, organizations and the community can benefit.”
This was the “bigger and better thing” that Kathy was looking for — a way to address the needs of the community in the community itself.
Next project: TimeForAll
But she didn’t stop there. Kathy, along with Stacey Jacobsohn and Abby Greer, founded TimeForAll — a TimeBank dedicated to coordinators helping coordinators.
“We saw TimeForAll as a way to bring people back together who weren’t playing in the sandbox… let’s start playing in the sandbox again and see where it takes us.”
Playing in the sandbox means building on each others sandcastles — adding to the core foundation until you have one diversified but strong castle that can stand against the tumults of the playground.
“We all need each other. We do. We are not an I, we are a we. The more we’s we have the better off we are all going to be.”
The We’s in Kathy’s life
For Kathy, TimeBanking allows stories like Rose’s to become possible. Rose is essential in her community — she was able to complete all the baking for a neighbor’s wedding all on time credits — it just took the realization that she had the capacity to give to make it possible.
Unfortunately, Rose has since passed away — but she did not pass away alone. She was surrounded by TimeBank members, who — through the process of TimeBanking — had become her friends and her family.
And she continued the cycle of giving by leaving behind a painted egg for each and every single person who had come into her life and meant something to her, including Kathy.
photo from lujs.tripod.com
For Kathy Perlow, what is “near and dear to her heart” is “the fact that so many people were brought together because of the Community Exchange TimeBank that never would have met each other. They have become best friends who are there for each other. They are total support networks. And even if the timebank would go away, they would still be there for each other.
“For me, that just means everything in the world.”
Read the full interview with Kathy here: http://timebanks.org/kathy-perlow-in-depth-interview/