Phoenixville Area Time Bank: Trading time benefits members

Photo by Candice Monhollan Phoenixville Area Time Bank members from left, Brian Atkins, Joel Bartlett and Virginia (second from right) meet during a small get-together at the Artisans Cafe in Phoenixille.

PHOENIXVILLE — About year and a half ago, Deni Casey suffered a stroke and found herself unable to do some of the things she used to.

A simple task such as cleaning became taxing for her as her hands became uncoordinated.

Casey met Emma Peabody, co-coordinator of the Phoenixville Area Time Bank, last summer and found the help she needed.

“Everybody has something to offer,” said Margo Ketchum, another co-coordinator of PATB. “People with disabilities or elders can find the help they need and make connections in the community.”

The PATB, founded in 2004, is a place for people in the community to extend a helping hand to other members who need it. The non-profit organization states in its pamphlet PATB’s focus is on elders, people with disabilities, convalescents who are recovering from illness and the un/underemployed.

Its mission is to enhance “people-to-people support to build a fully inclusive, resilient community through a local service exchange network.”

Members accrue time dollars for the help and service they provide.

One hour equals one time dollar.

In turn, members spend their time dollars for help and service they may need.

“I end up spending most of my time dollars getting people to help me with my laundry,” Casey said.

For Diane Carlson, moving to the area left her without any friends. Her partner of 18 years and vice-president of PATB, Judy Antipin, would meet new friends at work while Diane stayed home.

It wasn’t until a trip to the library introduced Carlson to the Time Bank.

“I saw a brochure about and I said, ‘This sounds very interesting,’” Carlson said. “I got to meet people. I wasn’t alone anymore. All of the sudden, the world opened up like a big bunch of flowers.”

The Time Bank turned into something very useful for Carlson, especially within the last month after a diagnosis that she was terminally ill.

“Lots of people from the Time Bank, and some friends, have come over to transport Diane to medical appointments,” Antipin said.

She added that some members come over to play board games with Carlson just to keep her company.

Sometimes requests become a little unique in the organization, but there always seems to be someone who can provide service.

“ some unusual things, like a member helps restore an heirloom or crocheting a tablecloth,” Peabody said. “There’s such a wide variety of things that go on that’s really exciting to hear.”

Antipin had a unique request for her time dollars.

“I once traded face time with a horse,” Antipin said. “One of our members has a horse farm, so I went out and met all the horses in exchange for time dollars.”

The members of the PATB become more than just a community group as different social events have gotten people to know one another.

“Every couple months there is something like a picnic or pot luck,” Peabody said. “There are activity groups, too, where people get together based on a shared interest like artists or people who want to cook together.”

With a group as big as the PATB, there is bound to be a large variety of interests.

“We have a membership committee whose task it is to find ways for members to socialize,” Ketchum said. “We plan it together meet once a month.”

The membership ranges in age from their 20s to 80s and a third of them are elder, unemployed convalescent or disabled, said Joel Batlett, the president of PATB.

“We have about 200 , but they’re not all active,” Bartlett said. “We have a constant rotation. The membership has occasional spurts, depending on the economy and major news.”

The PATB continues to grow and welcome in new members as they enter their eighth year in existence. Its vision to create a connected community through exchanges of personal talents to fill unmet needs remains the building block for the organization.

“I always tell people that time dollars exchanges are limited only by people’s imagination,” Antipin said.