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TimeBank members are from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and the TimeBank impacts each member differently. Meet some of our members and read what effect the TimeBank has had on their lives:
According to Flora, the TimeBank was there for her at a most difficult time. Flora is a Washington Heights resident who had generously given her time to other TimeBank members.
When mourning the loss of her husband, who had been very sick, a group of six TimeBank members surprised her by attending the funeral service. Flora was touched by their show of support.
“I thought, ‘Wow, it’s really worth it to be a part of the TimeBank.’ When the members came [to the funeral], I realized my family is continuing to grow. I deeply appreciated it. It was, for me, very precious.”
Flora got started with the TimeBank by offering her tailoring services. She works in the garment industry as a supervisor and likes to use her sewing skills in her free time to help others. She has filled multiple requests for alterations and has met many new people in the process.
The opportunity to meet other members and interact with people of different backgrounds is one of the benefits of the TimeBank that Flora appreciates most. She stays connected by attending the monthly potluck gatherings in Washington Heights, where she contributes dishes of her own.
“After you get to a certain age and you're no longer with your children most of the time, you need pastimes and to meet people with whom to share. I have felt very good around the people I interact with in the TimeBank.”
It was Saturday and time for Liz to meet with Jin for her weekly Chinese conversation. Their location of choice was the Fort Hamilton Public Library in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Their literature of choice was a comic book popular in China. Liz studied Chinese in college and was grateful for this opportunity to practice her Mandarin.
“The language lessons are really terrific,” said Liz. “Because I’m not taking Chinese classes anymore, I was really afraid that my language skills would drop off.”
Liz and Jin met each other through the TimeBank and were matched for language conversation. “Usually, in college classes, you don’t get a chance to talk. You are listening to the teacher or taking notes or a quiz. But this is one-on-one, so I get the chance to really speak in Chinese for two hours. I really feel it’s improving my ability.”
Liz earns time credits by teaching an English class to TimeBank members at Marien Heim in Sunset Park. At her class, she engages in conversations with her students about various topics, such as travelling, holidays, health issues, even spirituality. For one student who was a complete beginner, she simply gave instruction on saying numbers.
Whether she is receiving a service, or helping others at the senior center learn English, the exchanges for Liz go beyond the perceived benefits. She has met a lot of people she would not have otherwise met, people from different age groups and backgrounds.
At the library, Liz switches from her “English brain” to her “Chinese brain” in order to talk to Jin about the comic book. Although the one-on-one attention she gets is greatly improving her speaking skills, for her, the real progress is building a valuable relationship.
Jennifer, a project manager for software development, joined the TimeBank in 2009 to participate in the Study Coach Project, an initiative that connects elementary schools with free one-on-one tutors/mentors for students. Each week, Jennifer walks fifteen minutes from her home on the Lower East Side to tutor eleven-year-old Jonathan in reading and help him with homework.
“When you work with someone who is not speaking English in the home, what sounds right to you may not make sense to him or her. You have to figure out how to explain it in a different way.”
The Study Coach program appealed to Jennifer because she could work with Jonathan in his home, which not only allows for more scheduling flexibility but has also been an opportunity for Jennifer to practice her Spanish with Jonathan's mother, a non-English speaker. “The TimeBank program really allows you to connect one-on-one with another person in your neighborhood. Hopefully, you see that person again, allowing you to do even more things with him or her.”
In exchange for her tutoring work, a fellow TimeBank member helped Jennifer clean out and organize her kitchen cabinets in preparation for an upcoming holiday. “It’s the stuff that people don't think about—small things that make a huge difference in people's lives. Needs that many people may not realize exist.”
When speaking to the reciprocal nature of the TimeBank, Jennifer explained, “You are being recognized in a way that is simple. And when you are giving, you are still receiving. You could be having a bad day at work, but helping someone else just makes you feel better.”
Since Eridania joined the TimeBank two and a half years ago, she has learned more English than she was able to learn in her previous 40 years in America. Through the TimeBank's partnership with CUNY in the Heights, Eridania attended English classes as well as computer classes. Knowledge of how to use a computer enabled Eridania to continue her English study at home, and recently, she received her certificate in English from CUNY in the Heights, completing advanced, college-level English.
"The computer was very important for me. Before, I knew nothing! Now, I can look for jobs and use email.”
Eridania has put her English to good use through the TimeBank by tutoring a second grader in math and science, as well as keeping an older TimeBank member company while running errands. "For me, the TimeBank is about sharing.”
Eridania has met many new friends through the TimeBank, attending workshops on health and money management, as well as events and weekly walks. Gathering with friends has been a great opportunity to share knowledge.
"In the TimeBank, if you know something, you share with other people who need and want to learn. I am so thankful for all that I have learned." For Eridania, learning through the TimeBank has been a gift that keeps on giving.
Carlos works for VNSNY as a translator. He originally joined the TimeBank for the opportunity to provide services to people in need, but ended up getting back in a way he didn’t imagine.
“Since I came to the U.S., I have been in close contact with immigrants. There is an immense need for learning, for help in a lot of things. The resources are very limited.”
Carlos contributed by co-leading a TimeBank "English conversation" group in Sunset Park. He is a native of Mexico and learned English at a late age when he came to the U.S. Knowing first hand the difficulty Latino immigrants face when trying to assimilate into the English-speaking world, he was very passionate about helping them out.
At the conversation groups, Carlos helped the students read newspapers and books in English, then discussed the content with them.
“I learned how, in general, English learners see the barriers of the language.”
Carlos is currently pursing his associate’s degree in computer science and would like to combine what he is learning in class with what he learned at the TimeBank. He has dreams of developing his own computer program that teaches Latinos how to learn English. He plans to use his personal experience learning English and his teaching experience to develop a better tool than what is currently available in the market.
For more information, you can call the Community Connections TimeBank at 212-609-7811 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.