Time Banks USA Founder Speaks in Lewiston

Dr. Edgar Cahn notes abundant value of exchanging personal time and talents

LEWISTON – Dr. Edgar Cahn, the founder of Time Banks USA  explained to a group of 30 Time Bank members and regional refugee and immigrant service workers recently how Time Banking allows people to trust each other, bring out the best in each other, and demonstrate that everyone has the ability to give and create a better world.

In a conversation titled “A Partnership for All: Refugee Services and Time Bank” April 15 at Thrive System of Care offices, Dr. Cahn explained how “money values what is scarce, but devalues what is abundant.”

“We have an abundant ability to contribute and give to one another,” says Cahn. “The market doesn’t pay people to care for each other, mentor each other, come out to vote, be a citizen, fight for social justice. All of these basic things are not valued in the cash economy, but without them we couldn’t exist as a society and be humans.”

Time Banking is practiced in 22 countries on six continents using “time dollars”– virtual currency representing time, energy, skills and talents– exchanged by people, businesses, and others in a community.

“It’s neighbor to neighbor, people helping people,” says Sharon Carter, Lewiston/Auburn Time Bank Coordinator.

The L/A Time Bank has more than 125 members and over 1,100 hours of time dollars exchanged in the form of elderly companionship, language interpretation and lessons, tutoring for children and adults, minor home repair, yard and garden work, sewing, laundry, child care, and much more. Thrive began funding the L/A Time Bank in February 2008. In October Empower Lewiston gave the enterprise a $10,000 grant.

Dr. Cahn was in Maine to address an economic symposium at University of Maine Augusta. He was invited to Lewiston by Judith Southworth, Elder Services Coordinator, Catholic Charities of Maine Refugee and Immigrant Services.

“We’ve built a partnership with Time Bank in Portland and Lewiston over the past four years,” says Southworth, “not only to provide expanded services to the refugee community, but also to offer opportunities for them to give back. Giving back is not an aspect we service providers normally have to offer, and it is a wonderful way to bridge the gap between native born and new Mainers.

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