CRIS to begin regional time bank for seniors

— Community Resources for Independent Seniors (CRIS) recently received two grants that it will use to develop a Time Bank for seniors in the Cazenovia area.

Time banking is an established concept — although there are currently none established in Madison County — that works as a reciprocal exchange service that uses units of time as currency. A time bank, also known as a service exchange, essentially allows volunteers who spend “time” offering community service to receive the same amount of “time” in services they can use.

For example, a senior who spends an hour driving another senior to a doctor’s appointment earns an hour of credit which he or she can use for a service they need, such as an hour of driveway shoveling.

“It’s an old concept,” said Bonnie Slocum executive director of CRIS. “Instead of using money it uses the talents of people in the community. It’s a connector that isn’t really in place right now [in the area].”

For CRIS, the time banking concept would be used by its 50 CRIS-CAT volunteers — all age 55 and older — who have been giving their time to their community for years, Slocum said.

“This gives them something back,” Slocum said. “Now a lot of our volunteers don’t want anything back, but you can pass on your credits to someone else you know who may need them.”

The time bank program is made possible through two grants CRIS recently received: $7,000 from the CNY Community Foundation and $1,500 from The Rapha Community Fund. The funding will be used to purchase the equipment and supplies necessary for the program, pay for orientation and training for members and staff as well as paying for communications and public relations work to inform the community of the program, Slocum said.

The CRIS time bank program is still in the early stages of development, but is hoped to be ready for use in the near future. The program at first will only be open to CRIS volunteers ages 55 and older, although the hope is that the program can be expanded to other people in the future, Slocum said.

For more information on CRIS and its time banking program, call CRIS at 655-5743 or email callcris@cllcris.org. Information is also available online at callcris.org and timebanks.org.

Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at editor@cazenoviarepublican.com.

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