In addition to interviewing the TimeForAll founders I had time to interview one more TimeBank coordinator: Erin Malone, coordinator of Our Washington County TimeBank in West Bend, WI. Here is Erin’s narrative:
In a whirlwind of dog hair, rabbit fur, two teenage kids, and final papers, Erin Malone was ready for her first timebank exchange. Erin is a returning adult to college, a mother, and a timebank coordinator. At the time of the first exchange, she was balancing 20 credit hours a semester, a full time job, her internship with Our Place Day Services, and a full house of pets and people. With dishes to do, papers to write, and a community to build – Erin’s house was kind of falling apart.
Excited to see what would happen, Erin put out a request for household help on the TimeBank’s Community Weaver website. When her phone rang not that long after, she was elated. Erin would be able to get the help she needed and Our TimeBank of Washington County was about to have its first exchange.
Building a Blossoming Timebank
Not knowing the opportunities about to unfold before her, Erin was in her senior year of college when she first heard about timebanking. Searching for an internship, she applied to Our Place Day Services, an agency serving adults with disabilities in Washington County, Wisconsin. Erin was offered more than an internship, she was offered the exciting opportunity to help build Our TimeBank of Washington County.
It all began with an idea from Donna Ellenbecker, the owner of Our Place Day Services and an adult family home provider. Donna has dedicated her life to helping adults with disabilities become more connected in the community in valued roles. After hearing about the active Dane County Timebank nearby, Donna jumped into researching timebanking. For Donna, timebanking would be the perfect way to help members at Our Place share their talents and skills as well as build friendships in the community. Along with the help of Nancy Gapinski, an employee of Our Place Day Services, the agency applied for and received a SPARKS Grant from Wisconsin’s Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and Our TimeBank of Washington County was one step closer to achieving Donna’s dream. Nancy and the grant team — which included Our Place members — developed their own name, a mission, a general plan, and flyers for the timebank.
This is when Donna and Nancy brought in Erin as a coordinator. Nancy describes Erin’s presence as “a gift.” She shared that “Erin’s enthusiasm, organizational skills, and connections in the local community were tremendously helpful in getting the timebank going and keeping it growing.”
Erin took it upon herself to research timebanks all over the world – looking for anything she could get her hands on about timebanking. Erin became a timebanking quilter — taking bits and pieces from other timebanks to fit the specific needs of the Washington County Timebank.
All the timebank needed now was members. Erin reached out to the senior center in town, numerous churches, anyone that she could, and in February 2016 she hosted the first — of many — successful potlucks. Five months later, they now have 37 members and have had 80 exchanges within the timebank for a total of 133 hours exchanged. The people of Washington County are no longer strangers — they are now a community of people with valid talents and skills.
Back to the Start and Into the Future
For Erin, it was her first exchange that really stands out in her experiences as a timebanker. As a mother, as a student, and as a coordinator, Erin juggles many roles and many tasks. She is a strong and independent woman and from talking to her, I believe there is little she cannot handle. However, it was important that she take a step back and receive help — and give someone the opportunity to provide their skills for her in return. And Our Timebank of Washington County members did not disappoint.
Knowing that she has a community ready to help her in her times of need means everything to Erin Malone. Our Timebank of Washington County may be a new timebank but with coordinators like Erin, Donna, and Nancy, who care about and are dedicated towards the members, and with passionate and eager timebank members, this timebank will soon have an endless supply of beautiful and awe-inspiring stories.
Our TimeBank of Washington County: https://washingtoncountywi.timebanks.org/
Author’s Note: I would like to thank all the coordinators that I had the opportunity to interview this summer: Kathy, Stacey, Abby, and Erin. Every one of you has empowered me with your words, stories, and encouragement. Timebanking has amazing capabilities and it can do so much — but it would not be possible without the people within the timebank. Thank you for all that you have taught me. –Nicole Bañales