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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SWEL Timebank - Making Your Volunteering Pay Off!

Q: What is S.W.E.L. Timebank? 
A: It stands for Shoreline, Woodway, Edmonds, Lake Forest Park"Timebank."

SWEL Timebank is a local group, that is helping people in the community connect their skills
in a way that is a mutual benefit. The group formed last year after an "Aging Your Way" workshop held at City Hall in Shoreline. 
Q: What are the benefits of joining?
A: Joining the SWEL Timebank gives you access to the talents, time, and skills of your neighbors, while giving you an opportunity to help others in meaningful ways. It's a great way to get connected with others in your community.
Forest Stewards volunteering in
restoration project
Q: What are the benefits of joining?
A: Joining the SWEL Timebank gives you access to the talents, time, and skills of your neighbors, while giving you an opportunity to help others in meaningful ways. It's a great way to get connected with others in your community.
Q: What kind of services are typically offered by Timebank members?
A: Timebank services encompass many forms of services, skills, and assistance: animal care, life coaching, tutoring, teaching crafts and hobbies (knitting, fishing, etc.), running errands, cooking, reading aloud, housecleaning, sewing, taxi service, hair cutting, computer help, gardening, yard work, and more...

Q: How can we get involved?
A: Next get-together -

Wednesday, April 11, 20127:00 - 8:30 pm Lake Forest Park Library17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, 98155(inside Lake Forest Park Town Center, lower level, below
Come meet SWEL Timebank members, meet other people interested in timebanking, and ask any questions you may have. Bring an appetizer or dessert to share!
SWEL Coordinator for more information on how to get involved and put your skills to good use!

Here's more information about what SWEL has been up to and is about  from local SWEL founding member,  Jan Stewart. 
Local SWEL Timebank Showcased at Aging Your Way Summit
(Showcase was sponsored by AARP, United Way and others) 
Over 700 Baby Boomers attended workshops held all around King County in 2010 to envision what they want in their communities to support them as they age.  This Aging Your Way initiative from Senior Services produced citizen-driven efforts with a range of themes, including Arts, Entertainment, Housing, Transportation, and Local Economies.   Last week, the Aging Your Way Summit was held in Seattle to showcase twenty-one programs.  Our local SWEL Timebank was one of Local Economies Programs that gave presentations to many of the 250 key leaders who attended the summit from nonprofits, government, and business, as well as individual community members in the Puget Sound area.

SWEL Timebank launched in our area in late 2011 to serve Shoreline, Woodway, Edmonds and Lake Forest Park, and now its membership is starting to grow.  
Timebanks offer an effective means for sustaining and the strengthening the communities they serve. That’s why they are found all over the world.  There are hundreds in the United States, with an increasing number in our region, including on Bainbridge and Lopez Islands, in Marysville and Renton, on the Eastside, and West Puget Sound in Kitsap County. 

Guiding Principles:  Communities of support, strength and trust are formed by people helping each other.   The contributions of all individuals are valued equally, including those overlooked by the monetary economy.  The unique gifts, talents and resources that each person has to share are honored, regardless of age, employment or ethnicity.   The exchanges of talents and skills within a Timebank create connections throughout the community, expanding networks of family, friends and neighbors.   The result is a natural mutual support system, and a kind of local gifting economy that matches community residents’ needs with local resources.

Aging in place becomes easier when seniors can get help with the things they may no longer be physically able to do, while staying connected and engaged by offering any number of skills acquired over a lifetime.  But Timebanks aren’t just for seniors.  For people new to the area, or for those whose family has relocated elsewhere, the Timebank can be a ready-made community network.  Members ease the pressure within their budgets of having to pay for all the services they need. 
How it works:   SWEL Timebank facilitates exchanges of volunteer time between individuals through a web-based system connecting members, allowing them to list, exchange and track services, while having the comfort of knowing all members have passed a basic screening process.  Unlike bartering (a two-way taxable exchange of goods and services based upon monetary value), exchanges of time within the Timebank are all valued equally.  Time hours have no monetary equivalent, are non-taxable, and exchanges are for services only.  (Any expenses are paid by the recipient.)  The Timebank is more of a Pay-It-Forward system:  When you volunteer to help someone through the Timebank, you receive credit for that time into your account.  Then, your time hours are spent by having any member do something for you. 
Volunteering with benefits!   Members are able to volunteer their time doing for others the things they enjoy doing, and receive help with the things they would rather not do, or are unable to do for themselves.  For example, you might help your neighbor by doing errands or shopping while she is recuperating from surgery.  She may have earned some of the time spent on your help by giving music lessons to someone else, who earned time credits by training another person’s dog.  The dog owner may have earned his credits by painting your living room, or by preparing Thai food for another member’s birthday party.  The possibilities for the types of exchanges in this self-organizing system are virtually unlimited.

SWEL Timebank holds monthly potlucks, where members can meet in a social setting, get to know each other, or arrange exchanges.  The potlucks also serve as venues for potential new members to learn about SWEL, go through an orientation process and join.  The next potluck will be held April 11th at the Lake Forest Park Town Center Library.  For more:  See SWEL’s Facebook page or the website at .

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