Focus Group in Columbia Brings Partners in Flood Recovery Together

Jul 7, 2017

At St. Mark United Methodist Church in Columbia, organizations and state agencies met for a focus group last month to share their systems for finding volunteers to work in the ongoing disaster recovery. Bryant Archie was one of the participants in the focus group. As an AmeriCorps Volunteer, he serves as a Client Services Coordinator for SBP, one of the disaster relief organizations at work in the state. Archie says he wanted to get involved with disaster recovery because for him, the 2015 floods hit very close to home. He started his service this winter, more than a year after the floods, but he’s learned that the need for volunteers is ongoing. South Carolina Public Radio's Laura Hunsberger has more.

More on the TimeBank system:

Organizers at the focus group presented the idea of using a TimeBank to help flood-affected residents and relief organizations find the more volunteer workers. Columbia Resilience, a nonprofit that works toward improving the overall resilience of the Midlands community, launched a Timebank program prior to the 2015 floods. With the recovery from the floods and now Hurricane Matthew continuing for years to come, organizers wanted to make the state's recovery partners aware of the TimeBank program, which has been used effectively in communities worldwide. 

Created in 1980, TimeBanking is an exchange system that works with the services individuals can provide, rather than money. The system can be adjusted to fit the needs of specific areas, but they all start at the same simple place. Individuals sign up to participate and offer whatever skills they have—from home repair to gardening to guitar lessons. When they provide an hour of service to another person, they gain one time credit. This time credit can then be exchanged for an hour of whatever available service they choose. All exchanges and credits are logged, usually online. One hour of any service equals one time credit. The continuous exchange of help and time credits forms a sustainable cycle of community interaction and mutual gain.

For more on the Columbia TimeBank visit firsttimebankofcolumbia.org.