A typical trip to the bank doesn’t usually involve the ability to get those pesky boxes arranged in your garage or weeds pulled in your yard in exchange for making a deposit.
But then again, this isn’t your typical “bank.”
This is the N4 Time Exchange — a virtual bank hosted by the Neighbor Network of Northern Nevada (N4), where members give and receive services without exchanging any money.
Reno resident Kathy Price-Toby is a happy member of the Time Exchange.
For 25 years, Price-Toby worked in medical dispatching and office management, and then pivoted her career to the Silver State Fair Housing Council, where she currently works. With such a wealth of experience constantly working around computers, she now earns time with the Exchange by helping other members with computer tasks — work done in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or designing brochures.
In exchange, other members of the Time Exchange help her with work around her house.
“I really like the concept of exchanging time rather than money,” Price-Toby says. “It was so nice that I could get an hour’s worth of work at my home, and I could give someone different an hour’s worth of computer work.”
She also transports members of the N4 community to the grocery store — especially since the COVID pandemic has prevented her from working her part-time job at the Galaxy movie theater at Legends on Sundays.
“I just volunteer time here and there as I’m needed,” she said. “Since COVID, I’ve been helping Zelda. I take her to Trader Joe’s or bring groceries to her.”
Zelda, whom Price-Toby describes as “a pistol,” just turned 90. So the service that she provides to her fellow N4 member is indispensable.
“That’s the beautiful thing about the Time Exchange,” says N4 Founder and Executive Director Amy Dewitt-Smith. “It’s a fully inclusive community time exchange. It’s non-monetary, which redefines and equalizes work. One hour of service provided by a member during an exchange is valued the same, no matter the type of work.”
How the N4 Time Exchange Works
When members provide a service for other members, one hour is earned for each hour spent providing the service. Members can then exchange their earned hours for an hour of service from someone else. To adhere to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID guidelines, members may choose to only give and receive touch-free services outside of their home (including delivering goods, running errands or yardwork) by phone, or virtually (such as learning a second language or tutoring).
The first step for those interested is to complete an interest form, found here. An N4 team member will complete a reference check and will then contact you to schedule an orientation that includes how to set up your online account and how to use the time exchange software to access services. Orientations can be completed virtually or in-person.
“Time Exchange members make offers and requests within the software, which is accessible through our website or through an app on their smartphone,” Dewitt-Smith says. “When a member is interested in making an exchange with another member, they make contact completely virtually in order to arrange the service exchange — to offer or request services. If a member does not have Internet access, an N4 team member can assist them with posting and responding to service requests and offers over the phone.”
Members can offer or request a variety of services — from outdoor landscape help, dog walking, around-the-home-office solutions like filing and sorting, computer work, household tasks like hanging curtain rods or rearranging furniture, transportation, light errands, socializing and more.
“The only limit is the community member’s imagination,” Dewitt-Smith says. “We invite N4 members, or prospective members, to think about their individual skillsets and contribute what they can. And in exchange, you can take care of some of the things around your house that you’ve been meaning to get to, but perhaps don’t have the skills or ability to tackle on your own.”
For Price-Toby, that means more physically straining work like pulling boxes off of high shelves. Kathy has spina bifida, and after many surgical procedures, has used crutches since 2014.
“The spina bifida tends to make it so my body doesn’t cooperate,” she laughs. “I used to dance!”
Time Exchange Benefits All Involved
Dewitt-Smith notes that the N4 Time Exchange is a win-win: members benefit from getting to do the things they’re good at, in exchange for someone else doing something that perhaps they’re less confident in doing on their own.
“This kind of exchange is always important, but perhaps even more so as we are all working to navigate our worlds during a pandemic,” she notes. “Maybe you’re out of work and looking to fill some time. Or you’re employed and want to find a way to help others. You have skills, and you also need help with things. This is a great, mutually beneficial solution.”
Price-Toby says she loves the sense of fulfillment she gets by helping Zelda with her shopping tasks, while also getting to bank the time for her own needs.
“Everybody gets to contribute,” she says. “It definitely makes for a good feeling that you’re actually contributing to what somebody else might need.”
N4 is currently looking for volunteers to coordinate the N4 Time Exchange and its Volunteer Village programs (which is a way for people to volunteer for N4 or other local organizations that help make Northern Nevada a better place). Both positions are virtual, require a one-year commitment, and include training. Volunteer Coordinators can make their own schedules (2-5 hours a week), and are responsible for reaching out to new members, assisting with member orientations, connecting people with other members for service exchanges or volunteering, and helping spread the word about the programs.
For more information about the N4 Time Exchange, or to submit an interest form, visit N4’s website here. Those interested in applying for one of the Volunteer Coordinator positions, can do so at neighbornv.org/career-interest-form.
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