Togetherness through 'TimeBank' readily apparent at annual auction

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In order to recreate the vibrant contributing societies that were once in inner cities, “we have concentrated on monetary grants from federal, state, and local government, where perhaps we should look to our past history where the founders of this great country worked together in building their farms, villages, and communities,” according to Fred Mester, retired Oakland County Circuit Court judge. That spirit, said Mester, is now being recreated through organizations like the Michigan Alliance of TimeBanks.

“As you walked in to the Birmingham Unitarian Church, the site of Michigan Alliance of TimeBanks’ (MATB) ‘Second Bid to Build Our Communities Auction,’ you were immediately embraced by a host of friendly and energetic volunteers,” said Mester of the event held earlier this month. “Acting as representatives and advocates, auction greeters were indeed ready and willing to respond to your questions and needs.”

As one volunteer explained, “It’s all about building relationships and community by helping each other; everyone has something to offer, and everyone has something they need, so if you match these two things, you grow this sharing network.”

In regards to TimeBank scholarship, the conceptual framework is viewed as a way to promote equality, inclusion, and community through the reciprocal and mutual exchanges of time and talent; the foundation of TimeBanking is built upon the recognition that every person has unique talents and gifts to offer and, as such, they must be cultivated and utilized.

“TimeBanking offers an alternative to current, monetary systems, one that is positioned within ‘the core economy’ (family, neighborhood, experience, knowledge, skills, wisdom and time),” explained Mester. 

TimeBanking proposes the exchange of services between people; each exchange is valued as equal, no matter one’s skill or educational level, and each exchange is recorded (i.e. 1 hour = 1 time credit), which can later be used to “purchase” someone else’s talents, skills, and services, within TimeBank communities.

In true TimeBank spirit and tradition at the fund-raising event, the silent auction items were, as one auction-goer commented, “as diverse and exceptional as our members and the communities we serve.” Ranging from hand-crafted mementos and sports memorabilia, to sparkling jewelry and sky-diving adventures, indeed there were items for all. Adding excitement and suspense, to the already fun and whimsical atmosphere, was the knowledge that the night would culminate with the live auction.

The live auction items were, much like the silent auction, eclectic and compelling, but on a grander scale. Several one-of kind offerings, such as lunch with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and breakfast and conversation with retired Judge Fred Mester, caused quite a bidding frenzy. However, the final offering, a seven-day/seven-night African Safari, generated the most activity and, rightfully so, the most competition and excitement.

At the end of a long, but rewarding evening, volunteers gathered to reflect on the night’s event.

“What an enthusiastic and generous crowd,” commented one volunteer.

“That was so exciting to watch those two bid head-to-head on the African Safari,” mentioned another.

Finally, a long-time member summed up what most, if not all, were thinking, “We all should be very proud, because we all worked so hard; indeed we represented MATB and our community TimeBanks with authenticity and pride.”

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