What is a time bank, and how can one help a community?

BJ Andryusky, St. Pete Timebank founder, explains how the St. Pete Timebank works for a group of seniors at the Sunshine Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, on November 18, 2021. (Jeremy Allen)

We’re always hearing about people doing random acts of kindness: Paying for the person’s meal behind them at a fast-food restaurant or baking cookies for their neighbors.

Now, what if we told you that there are people who live in communities across the world that follow this very code? People are doing acts for others and getting the same kindness back. It’s like a never-ending wheel of karma for doing nice things for others.

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These communities are called time banks, and we visited the St. Pete Timebank to learn more about these folks who are donating their time and resources to each other in order to grow a stronger community.

“You take something that you love, you offer it in the time bank and then you’re paid for the time you do it,” said BJ Andryusky, the founder of the St. Pete Timebank. “You’re valued for who you are and what you have to offer. And everybody has something to offer.”

It’s all about reciprocity, too. Andryusky explains that some people just want to give, give, give -- but it’s important to remember that at a time bank, you also deserve to take a little bit, too.

“We build community one exchange at a time, and we build this social capital, or this social network, of people,” Andryusky said.

She started this group in October 2016. The work done by the time bank generated attention and a lot of new members. It wasn’t until 2019 when the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg gave the St. Pete Timebank a grant that changed everything.

Healthy St. Petersburg found the time bank, saw what they were doing and how they were facilitating change and made it happen.

After the grant, membership at the St. Pete Timebank grew to more than 450 people. COVID-19 has hurt membership and participation since, but Andryusky said, for her, it’s never been about the number of members, but more about the actions they offer.

“It’s not the amount of members you have in an organization that counts. It’s what they do that counts. Our members have exchanged over 30,000 hours together since 2016,” Andryusky said.

And it all comes back to respect.

Andryusky explained that it’s not about what you’ve done in your past, but more about what you’re doing right here, right now. No matter what your background is, when you come to the time bank, everyone is an equal and respects one another.

While we visited the time bank, we discovered a trove of stories from all sorts of people who are trying to find solutions to problems in the world. From feeding the hungry to teaching someone the basics of plumbing, the folks at the time bank are trying to make their community a better place, one day at a time.

Check out the links below to see more stories from the people at the St. Pete Timebank, and how they’re using their skills and resources to help others in the community.

About the Authors

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.

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