AT TBR, Get What You Need, Give What You Have
by William Woody
Dec 17, 2012 | 1095 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TIME BANK OF THE ROCKIES member Bob Balerio helped repair the door knob of Time Bank of The Rockies President Cynthia Harwood at her home in Montrose on Tuesday. (Photo by William Woody)
TIME BANK OF THE ROCKIES member Bob Balerio helped repair the door knob of Time Bank of The Rockies President Cynthia Harwood at her home in Montrose on Tuesday. (Photo by William Woody)

MONTROSE – As Bob Balerio works his hands to remove an old door knob – likely the home's original latch at 627 N. 9th Street in Montrose Tuesday afternoon – home owner Cynthia Harwood knows she can expect no bill.

Balerio, 68, has been learning and implementing home repair since he was a teenager and now he and Harwood are both members of the Time Bank of the Rockies, an organization created for members to share time and services between one another.

Time Banks, A.K.A "time exchanges," serve as cooperatives for members who help one another within a member network where everyone's skills are valued equally and where the concept of, "work," is redefined.

TBR's concept is simple. One hour you spend helping another member creates a time credit that can be used to get help and services or purchase goods available from other members.

"Time banking is an exchange of a member's skills, time, and talent. The premise is, that everyone has skills, or talents, they can share with others to meet their unmet needs or desires. In time banking everyone‚ time is equal in value; one hour of work offered, is equal to one hour of work received," Harwood said.

Harwood created TBR, a nonprofit organization, in September 2011 after nearly a year of researching similar programs in both the U.S. and overseas. This local group has services aimed in the communities of Delta, Olathe, Montrose, Ridgway and Ouray.

She said there are other similar groups in Carbondale, La Plata County and Aspen, but many of those are not easy to get a hold of, lack general structure, or do not operate within a nonprofit status.

Harwood said she is trying to make the Montrose time exchange become a model for others to be created and added how TBR could attach itself to larger time bank groups in the future. She knows of one in Pagosa Springs and in Boulder where a similar plans have been working for the past 10 years.

A member of TBR can receive time credit for simply driving someone to a doctor's appointment, helping the elderly with grocery shopping, transportation, arts and crafts and general home repair, such as fixing leaky roofs.

According to nationwide studies, many healthcare organizations believe time banks not only make people feel better through self-sufficiency and creating new relationships, but they can help drive down the costs of health care.

A New York Times report published last year cited a time bank in Richmond Va., which provided social support for people with asthma and was able to cut emergency room admissions to local hospitals by 70 percent.

Throughout many studies, the term "companionship" is repeated many times with members stating they had refilled a sense of belonging that made them feel more empowered in their daily lives.

These examples are recognized in TBR's mission statement. And for Montrose member Balerio, he hopes more of these organizations can catch on.

"I don't think there is a real quick answer, but helping others is beneficial. I'm surprised that this kind of thing isn't more prevalent," he said. "I think it's important to help each other and I think it's very important that we pay attention to what the needs of the people are.

Balerio went to Harwood's house Tuesday to fix a loose door knob and determine if a bathroom fan needed replacement.

When asked if he needed any services for exchange for his time he replied,  "at this point no, not really. But I'm fortunate, I have what I need right now." Balerio is a retired Montrose educator and was principal of Cottonwood Elementary School for many years.

Harwood said the TBR's website is the lifeline for the organization. Once someone registers as a member, they can begin publishing offers and requests through a wide-range of categories.

She said the website breaks down member descriptions into many specific services and into categories of what specific service each member can provide.

"The more description the better," Harwood said.

The time bank movement founder, Dr. Edgar Cahn, said experiments with time banking began some 25 years ago trying to create positive community-building efforts that could remedy or prevent the negative externalities created by the relentless pursuit of monetary profit. Cahn is a professor at the University of the District of Columbia School of Law and founder of TimeBanks USA.

"Because the market fails to value or reward many types of critical work, the work of raising healthy children, building strong families, revitalizing neighborhoods, preserving the environment and advancing social justice and democracy, we felt there should be other ways than the market price to place a value on people‚" Cahn wrote in a Nov. 17, 2011 report.

In response to the present economic climate, Cahn writes that with unemployment staying "stubbornly high," it does not mean talent should go to waste because monetary compensation is not available.

"People can get the things they need like house repair, yard work, child care, elder care, haircuts, carpools, or moving services directly from members of their community, without money having to enter the picture at all," Cahn said.

In Montrose, Harwood said, TBR has sponsorship from various organizations including the Uncompahgre Valley Association, the Delta Montrose Electrical Association, Volunteers of America, and many other smaller organizations.

"About 11 different agencies here pay for memberships," Harwood said.

Harwood said because TBR operates with a nonprofit status, the group is in a position to accept charitable donations.

For more information or to become a member contact the Time Bank of the Rockies at 970/209-6886, or visit its website at

Twitter: @williamwoodyCO

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