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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Davis Community Time Bank generates volunteerism

Here’s a scenario: it’s finals week and you’re in a jam. You desperately need to go grocery shopping, but you’re up to your ears in studying, it’s raining and you don’t have a car. Gosh, you think, I really wish someone could go shopping for me. I could definitely return the favor someday…

Looks like you’re a candidate for the Davis Community Time Bank.

Created by a group of UC Davis juniors, the Time Bank is a brand-new community group that allows its members to exchange services, such as grocery shopping and home repair, free of charge. All you need to do is provide your own service to another member.

Junior biological sciences major Kayla Rouse was first inspired to create the Time Bank after watching a television show about other community time banks. When the time came for her to suggest an idea for her Davis Honors Challenge “Third Year Project” class, she immediately thought of creating a time bank in Davis.

“Everyone has small needs that they would appreciate having someone help out with. I think a lot of students have small needs, like needing a ride somewhere,” Rouse said. “You join to get to know the community and get involved and get more out of your life in Davis, and become more a part of the community there.”

New members sign up on the Davis Community Time Bank web site and create an informational profile. After meeting with one of the time bank coordinators to get approved, members are free to list the services they can provide for others and the services they would like others to provide for them. Members then e-mail each other to set up projects.

Each member who provides one hour of service receives one “Time Dollar.” They can then use this time dollar to “hire” another member to provide one hour of service for themselves.

The idea of time banking was invented in the 1980s by Dr. Edgar S. Cahn, founder of the National Legal Services program and Antioch School of Law, as a solution to cuts in government spending. Today, time banks can be found all over the world.

Rouse and her team of fellow Davis Honors Challenge students spent fall quarter planning the time bank and setting up the web sites necessary to run it.

“I feel like we’re starting a business. You have to have a game plan and you have to be really focused and overcome challenges,” Rouse said.

So far, some of those challenges include creating an internship for the group through the Internship and Career Center and deciding whether or not to register as an official UC Davis student club. But the biggest challenge has been simply getting the word out to members of the community, said team member Elizabeth Lara.

“The most important part of the planning is person-to-person networking and word of mouth,” said Lara, a junior nature and culture major. “It’s meeting other people who seem passionate about it and using every high quality resource we can. It’s one person at a time.”

The time bank already has at least one fan, Experimental College tai chi instructor Daniel Quincy. Quincy believes that if the time bank can attract high-level professionals who are willing to share their expertise, the bank has the potential to be successful.

The real benefit of the time bank is its ability to equalize the time and skills of people who normally earn vastly different salaries, he said.

“When you go out and get someone to redo your floor, they charge so many dollars an hour because they think of themselves as an expert and they don’t realize that your time is just as valuable as theirs,” Quincy said. “With time banking, people can find services that can be very professional and highly skilled, but it’s on an hour-to-hour basis as opposed to the monetary value.”

In addition to providing services, Lara said people are also welcome to teach members new skills, such as playing an instrument or sewing. Organizations can also create accounts to recruit volunteers.

All Davis residents, even students and children, are encouraged to join the time bank. For undergraduate students, the bank can help build relationships with community members they might not even know existed.

“It seems the majority of [undergraduates] for the first couple of years are so campus-based they don’t even realize that there’s this whole community of families and elderly people living in Davis that they could meet and have a connection with and learn something and give something,” Lara said.

Everyone has skills and services they can provide to time bank members, and no one should feel they have nothing to contribute, Rouse said. People often do not realize what they can do for others.

“I think every sector of the community has something different to offer. Older, wiser senior citizens know so many things they can pass on to the younger generation and kids always bring something different too and they can help out in a lot of ways,” Rouse said. “Everyone can definitely be a vital member of the time bank.”

For more information about the Davis Community Time Bank, visit davistimebank.weebly.com. To join, sign up at community.timebanks.org/findtimebanks.php.

ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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