Jacqueline Janssen: ‘Hour Nevada County’ time bank orientation offered Jan. 9 | TheUnion.com

Jacqueline Janssen: ‘Hour Nevada County’ time bank orientation offered Jan. 9

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Jacqueline Janssen

When Grass Valley resident Cathleen Parsons needed support after having surgery, she turned to her the local time bank to help her take care of those things that she wasn't able to do for a couple weeks: make meals, walk her dog, water her yard, drive her to doctors' appointments.

"What's a time bank?" you might ask.

A time bank is a community system where a person who volunteers one hour of their time helping someone else, gains an hour of time credit that can be used receiving services that others in the time bank are offering. It's like an alternate form of currency, but the currency is your time, doing what you enjoy.

Cathleen, in turn, has provided pet sitting and dog walking to other time bank members in need. She's also given car rides. It's not a direct exchange like bartering. You select services from any of the other time bank members offers. So the more members, the greater the selection of services.

In Nevada County the time bank is called, “Hour Nevada County.” Yes, it’s a pun. But it represents what community support and time banking is about: Our community sharing hours to help each other with the neighborly deeds that many years ago we used to do for each other, but now require opening up a wallet.

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And this is a great part: members only offer what they enjoy doing so that everyone is happy when they are exchanging.

What other kinds of services have members exchanged? Everything from computer assistance, yard help, sewing, cooking, tutoring, massage, handyman repairs, pet care, window washing, landscaping, design and decorating, health related support, Costco/Trader Joe shopping runs and rides to the airport. Nevada County is one of a growing list of communities around the world that are riding the time banking wave — and the wave is growing bigger daily.

In Nevada County the time bank is called, "Hour Nevada County." Yes, it's a pun. But it represents what community support and time banking is about: Our community sharing hours to help each other with the neighborly deeds that many years ago we used to do for each other, but now require opening up a wallet.

Three years ago, community activist and Nevada City council member Reinette Senum saw the writing on the wall: the economy was struggling and many people were having trouble paying for things they really needed and at the same time, feeling isolated and lacking a community connection. After hearing about time banking she researched and found that there were successful time banks all over the world, exchanging services, building community, and meeting new friends that they might not have connected with before they entered the time bank.

Hour Nevada County has grown to over 265 members and over 2,000 hours of exchanges. Senum says one of her favorite exchanges is getting a ride to the Sacramento Airport.

"I give them three hours plus some money for gas. They can go shopping or whatever they need to do in Sacramento. They drop me at the curb and I don't have to pay for long-term parking. It's a win-win for everyone! Plus, they now have time credits to spend on other things that they might need." She also added, "I have literally saved thousands of dollars by being able to use time banking when I had emergency repairs at my restaurant a couple years ago."

The City of Nevada City is even a member now. Hour Nevada County donated some hours credits to them to assist with the annual Spring Cleanup. Volunteers were then able to earn time credits by helping to clean up Nevada City.

On Tuesday, Jan. 9, there will be a free introduction/orientation for Hour Nevada County at 6 p.m. at the Grass Valley Oddfellows Hall, 113 S. Church St. Attending an orientation is a requirement for members, as it really teaches everyone how to get the most out of their time banking experience.

"It's important because when people know how to really utilize time banking, they are hooked," Senum said. "It just makes so much sense, it feels great, you meet nice people and save money all at the same time."

Jacqueline Janssen is a Nevada City resident and time bank member.

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