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Partners in Care, Inc. established in Maryland in 1993, helps seniors remain independent longer by matching them with community volunteers who will help with such things as transportation, home repair, and insurance forms.
But the unique part of this program is that, while volunteers are driving seniors to medical appointments, helping them make telephone calls, or fixing a leaking faucet, they are able to "bank" their time to draw out later.
What is Time Banking? The group's website, www.partnersincare.org, explains it like this: "It is an innovative concept-in-action which provides an incentive for people to get involved. Anyone who helps out will get help back from the community when they need it. Everyone has something to contibute and is valued for it. It is affirming and empowering."
Examples of Time Banking and Exchange are:
- A volunteer helps someone read sort and read mail; in exchange that person can request a ride to the airport.
- A volunteer works in the group's thrift store; in exchange that person can request a Friendly Helper to assist with errands.
- A volunteer picks up groceries for a neighbor; in exchange that person can request that someone fix a computer.
"Our currency is time. We all have 24 hours in the day - it's the great equalizer. It's the idea of social justice and social responsibility. We can help ourselves and each other live with dignity and independence, and we can feel a sense of community, if we help each other. It's intentional reciprocity. It's very powerful," state organizers of Partners in Care.
The Time Banking model is especially important in these times when agency, community, and individual resources are stretched.
And when a Senior has time in the "bank," he or she is not so hesitant to ask for help.