YES! Magazine wrote about Womanshare, a grassroots group that allows members to exchange services for time, not money. Founded by and for women in 1991, this New York City nonprofit organization aims to build a strong alliance of members who seek to live more altruistically while learning new skills. Each Womanshare member has a “time bank” account for hours earned through helping others. A woman who teaches kickboxing for an hour, for example, can bank that hour for a future back massage or home repairs.
Despite financial hardships and organizational struggles, Womanshare has remained a nonprofit grassroots “community of friends,” said Jane Wilson, the group’s co-founder. The 40 or so members still exchange services and have become more active in groups formed around common interests.
Recently Womanshare members formed Taking Action, an environmental and political discussion group. They write letters to elected officials and participate in marches and demonstrations.
In 2007, Womanshare partnered with Community Connections, a larger time bank operated by the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. The partnership provided Womanshare with much needed structural support, as well as the opportunity for members to exchange services within a larger community. Womanshare members now have accounts in the Community Connections time bank and are able to work in new neighborhoods, opening up new experiences.
“Members come and go, but Womanshare is always here for those who need us,” said Wilson. The group, she added, continues to meet one of the most important goals she set at the start: to see women grow in self-confidence, “to watch them flourish.”