Donna Marie arrived from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. The single mother and her three children looked for a better future in Reading, a city that has been fighting poverty and disinvestment for decades. When she arrived, Donna immediately realized that life in Reading would not be the same as in San Juan. While she lived in Puerto Rico, Donna worked as a community liaison for Residencial Las Margaritas and was always involved in her community through local charity organizations. Her neighborhood had built a support network that took care of each other and offered help in case of need. But Hurricane Maria proved to be too much. After Maria, the infrastructure of the island proved beyond difficult with scarce water and food, and a failing electrical system, so she decided to move in with her parents in Pennsylvania.
When she arrived in Reading she found the same values from her island reflected in the organization Barrio Alegria: At Barrio we share everything. In our Barrio, what happens to one of us, happens to all of us. And, at Barrio, we keep our promises. She and her children got involved in Barrio’s Storytelling Through Dance, a community theater program that addresses social justice issues. It was through this program that Donna learned about time banking. Barrio had received a grant from United Way Berks County to encourage the use of time banking in Berks County, specifically in the City of Reading. They partnered with Good Neighbors Time Bank to build the volunteer capacity and timebank usage in the city.
A few months after signing up to the Timebank, Donna decided to cook Asopao for Storytelling Through Dance participants, so she spent half a day preparing her grandmother’s recipe for the soup. The soup was transported in a 40 qt, aluminum stock pot and was enough to feed the group of 30, not once, but twice, and some even three times. For an hour, this soup served as a community-building platform. Participants sat together, shared stories about family recipes, told jokes, and encouraged each other. After, some laid down on the rehearsal floor in some sort of food coma. Everyone thanked Donna and paid her in time credits.
Donna and many others living in Reading are considered poor by a system that doesn’t count all the volunteer and neighborhood building hours she contributes to the community. After receiving time credits for the Asopao, Donna said she felt she was the wealthiest woman in Reading, and because of our timebank, she is.
- 4 of each thighs and drumsticks seasoned with salt and pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup sofrito (homemade or store-bought)
- 2 envelopes Sazon Goya sin achiote (without annatto)
- 1/2 cup long-grain rice
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 8-10 cup chicken broth
- 4 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a soup pot, heat oil and brown chicken, add sofrito, sazon, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, bay leaf, chicken broth and cook for about 30 minutes then add rice. When rice is tender, add your olives and season with salt/pepper. Serve with sliced avocado and cilantro.
Many thanks to Daniel Egusquiza of Barrio Alegria for Donna’s story!
AN INTER-TIMEBANK EXCHANGE
“In October of 2017, I was traveling through Kent, Ohio and since I’m a member of their timebank, I’m always thinking of ways to do exchanges while I am passing through. Sometimes I have genius ideas!
In my home timebank in St. Petersburg, Florida, we were learning how to make “no-sew t-shirt bags” and were going to hold a class to teach how to make them at the Sunshine Senior Center, an organizational member of St. Pete Timebank. I decided to put in a request in the Kent Community Timebank for some used t-shirts for this project and asked that they be delivered to the home of Abby Greer where I was staying for time credits. I got a few individuals that responded to my request and I was excited to take these 6 t-shirts from my exchanges in Kent to make bags in Florida. I thought that would make for quite a fun story!
To my surprise, while I was out doing some grocery shopping, I got a delivery at Abby’s from Mary Ann Kasper, representing the Socially Responsible Sweat Shop of Kent – an organizational member Of Kent Community Timebank. Mary Ann brought two very large boxes of white t-shirts that they had in their inventory which were unusable to them because they were printed for an event from a few years ago. There were hundreds of them! What a surprise that was to me. This was going to make for an incredible event in Florida and I couldn’t have been happier about this exchange.
LOCAL BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS USING TIME AS CURRENCY
We took the t-shirts home to Florida and a member of our timebank had some leftover ink for tie-dying and thought it would be fun to do that for an exchange. She was paid time credits to tie-dye as many as she wanted. We had numerous members involved in teaching classes at the local Senior Center, earning yet more time credits by showing seniors how to make these bags. Rather than keep the bags after they made them, the seniors donated the bags to another timebank member, Community Cafe, who used them to put take-out orders in. Community Cafe was always looking for either paper or reusable bags rather than plastic so this was yet another set of exchanges that happened from time to time. Often, I would visit the cafe and be paid time credits to sit and make bags while I visited and drank my coffee.
Fast forward to May of 2021. I had plenty of those tie-dyed no-sew t-shirt bags still in my possession. In my preparation for visiting Kent again this year and trying to think of what exchanges I could do, I thought to bring this story full circle I would bring them back to the timebank and make yet another exchange with The Socially Responsible Sweat Shop of Kent. Again, to my surprise, Mary Ann Kasper came to the home of Abby Greer (where I was staying again for time credits) and picked up two large no-sew t-shirt bags from me that were filled with those same tie-dyed bags we had made in Florida! The bags were perfect for use at the farmers market to put the meditation cushions in that they had made and were selling and Mary Ann Kasper was elated to receive them from me three and a half years later. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, she needed them.
I wish I could tell you how many hours were exchanged out of this whole idea, and how many lives were touched because of these exchanges. This is part of why I love timebanking so much. It’s as creative as one chooses to be with it, and timebanking always touches lives.”
- BJ Andryusky Founder, St. Pete Timebank, Florida Member, Kent Community Timebank, Ohio
RESPONDING TO THE PANDEMIC
“When COVID-19 first hit us here in New York we were the hotspot for the virus. I have people I know who have lost loved ones to this horrible pandemic. It is not like me tosit on my hands if there is an urgent need in my community and I had to do something. At that time, there was a severe shortage of masks for healthcare workers and the CDC was advising that homemade cotton masks were a suitable solution given the emergency. I run another program at IMPACT!, Inc. that is the Newburgh Repair Cafe. At the Newburgh Repair Cafe, I have many ‘repair coaches’ who volunteer to help people fix people’s beloved but broken items: bicycles, computers, small appliances, etc… I knew several timebankers and volunteers who have sewing skills as they have helped man the sewing repair station at the Newburgh Repair Cafe to repair ripped articles of clothing and such. So I reached out to some of them and ‘Sewing to Stop the Spread’ was born. Since that time I have recruited over 80 volunteers throughout Orange County, NY and together, we have provided over 8,000 home-made facemasks to people in our area who need them. I travel around Orange County, NY to supply volunteers and timebankers with sewing supplies and sewing machines so they don’t have to leave home. I also pick up finished batches of masks and deliver them to organizations who need them.
CREATING IMPACT THROUGH COMMUNITY ACTION
I started Individuals Making Positive Advancement in their Communities Together, Inc. (IMPACT!, Inc.) because I believe in the power of average, every-day people to make significant changes within their own communities by volunteering or timebanking to help each other and address the broader needs of the community. I have several mini-initiatives that run through Together We Can Timebank. Together We Clean Newburgh, for example, is an initiative to award time bank credit for people who are willing to clean trash off of the streets and sidewalks in Newburgh around where they live or work. Together We Heal is an initiative to address health disparities and encourage poor people who usually cannot afford specialized wellness activities to spend their time credits for yoga classes, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and vegan cooking classes (all of which have established partnerships here in Newburgh who accept timebank credit for payment for their classes or therapies).”
Cape Ann TimeBank, Massachusetts
“Cape Ann TimeBanker Joy Adams offered to digitize old photos and I took her up on it, sharing with her that we had never been able to find any relatives on my mother’s side of the family…” READ MORE
Onion River Exchange (ORE), Vermont
“I joined Onion River Exchange shortly after moving to Montpelier in June of 2013. It quickly became one of my favorite parts of life there – something I’d rave about to all my friends, family, and really, anyone who’d listen. I’d describe it to them in detail, explaining, “No, there really isn’t money involved…” READ MORE
The Lyttelton Time Bank, New Zealand
“After a disaster like the 2016 Canterbury Earthquakes in New Zealand, it was difﬁcult to know how to help. What is meaningful support to those in need? The Bridge2Rocks TimeBank contacted Hurunui TimeBank, and made connections with the North Canterbury Response Team. People were exhausted, needed meals. Our community responded with meals and cards of support which were delivered by their local response team to those most in need…” READ MORE
St. Pete Timebank, Florida
“I am a transplant to Florida and don’t have any family close to me. So, finding a time bank has been awesome. Props to one member in particular, for babysitting my little one, when I just need a break sometimes. AND she even did the dishes y’all! Is she a saint, or what!? I felt blessed and very grateful…” READ MORE
Share Your Story!
What’s your favorite timebanking exchange story you like to share? It could be about anything that illustrates the transformation or sense of connection felt within an exchange.
It could be a big discovery or a small moment of peace.
This page is dedicated to capturing the meaningful stories, which so often go untold -stories that may bring joy to someone who might be hearing about timebanking for the first time, or to experienced timebankers who will recognize and know the experience.
With timebanking, no one is alone.