The Block Island Times

Senior Advisory considers time-banking

By Gloria S. Redlich | Oct 24, 2013

Island residents Mary Donnelly and Rosemarie Ives dropped by the Senior Advisory Committee meeting on Oct. 15 to introduce the concept of time-banking. According to Donnelly, time-banking is an alternative to bartering, and might be something the advisory board might want to consider for augmenting their current assistance program to island residents called Friends in Service Helping (FISH).

The idea had been suggested to her by Ives who shared an article on time-banking in AARP The Magazine. According to that piece, transactions operate on a simple principle of exchange: “For each hour of service that members give, they earn an hour’s worth of alternative currency known as time dollars, which can be traded for services from other members.”

“It’s giving your time to help others, doing things for people, not being paid but collecting time,” Donnelly explained. She added that everyone’s time was equal — that is, mowing a lawn for two hours was equivalent to a plumbing job for the same amount of time.

Ives suggested that with the aging island population, there would be increasing need for community services. Time-banking simply reworks “the old concept of bartering,” Ives said, adding that she brought the idea to Donnelly “because Mary is aware of the varying degrees of need within the community.” The group thought it could incorporate all ages — including youngsters — helping island residents needing assistance.

Ives had also spoken with Lisa Conlan, director of the New Hope Time Exchange (formerly known as Rhode Island TimeBanks). Ives thought the concept seemed “promising” and felt “something could be put in place” on the island. Donnelly added, “I think it’s a great thing if we can get it pinned down, and I thought of you people [the advisory board] because you’re already doing it.”

“It has good potential. I especially like that it’s inter-generational,” Chair Gail Pierce said. “If we do initiate it, I’d want to make sure we do it right.” She asked for the time-banking to be put on the next agenda.

On the issue of senior home health care, Pierce said, “I think there is a real need out there, for example, for someone who’s homebound to have transportation ...we’ve become aware we need more home care services on the island.” She wondered if the group should promote a seminar on home health care, but members agreed that the Medical Center was the more appropriate sponsor for such an event.

Linda Spak suggested developing a list of island residents needing assistance, and Dottie Graham thought it important to contact people who were homebound more frequently. Pierce suggested discussing these issues with the Medical Center. Spak agreed to contact Block Island Health Services Executive Director Barbara Baldwin to see if she’d be willing to meet with the group.


Board members reviewed the draft of a letter to the Town Council recommending the adoption of a town-wide emergency notification system. The group discussed ways to strengthen it, agreeing to make clear how much research had gone into the issue, as well as its potential costs and benefits.

Regarding the calendar of Senior Advisory activities, Spak suggested the committee check with Block Island Economic Development, which is putting together a community-wide calendar. Pierce and Graham thought it might be worthwhile for the group to first compile its own calendar and then possibly integrate it into a larger one.

Reporting for Sandra Kelly who was not present, Spak said the Block Island Bulletin Board currently had 358 members and had processed 1,566 messages.

Spak announced a date had been set for a refresher demonstration on how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) for Oct. 22 at 1:30 p.m. at the Community Center.

Pierce noted the Senior Advisory was still advertising for a Senior Coordinator and would continue to do so until the position was filled.

The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 9:30 a.m.

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