A group of Sussex County women have brought a new concept to the area they hope will spark friendships, engage the community and inspire residents to share skills and resources.

Have you been looking for someone to rake your leaves or paint your house? Or how about just walking or washing your dog?

There may be someone in Sussex County who can help you … and at no cost.

A group of Sussex County women have brought a new concept to the area they hope will spark friendships, engage the community and inspire residents to share skills and resources.

De Raynes and Sue McCarthy recently founded Sussex County's first time bank, which empowers community members to trade time rather than money for everyday projects around the house, lessons or transportation services.

The Sussex County Hour Exchange was developed last fall, but the group is just now getting off the ground, said Raynes, who works as the office manager for the group.

The idea is that by sharing resources, whether it be carpentry skills, art tips or a hand with the groceries, Sussex County residents are able to save their money for larger expenses, while at the same time cultivating a community in which neighbors are helping neighbors.

The concept of paying it forward is nothing new, but time banks take the idea of helping thy fellow neighbor a step further.

"We believe that everyone has some talent or interest they can offer to others," Raynes said. "These acts promote volunteerism and the exchanges have powerful ripple effects in building community connections."


In order to trade time, you must be a member of the time bank. Any resident of Sussex County can participate in the exchange, Raynes said. An individual membership costs $25 per year, of which half goes toward insurance coverage and the other half goes toward the group's expenses for meetings, supplies and other related costs.

Once a prospective member is accepted, Raynes said, they can start performing or receiving tasks with other members. Members then earn one hour in their time bank account for every hour they spend helping others. That hour can be spent however they want, whenever they want by having another member perform a task for them. The whole exchange is recorded and tracked using the Sussex County Hour Exchange's system software.

The Sussex County time bank teamed up with HourWorld, a national network of time banks that tracks hours exchanged throughout the country. HourWorld developed the software that SCHE uses.

"The actual software is awesome," Raynes said. "The developers came in and trained us on how to use it. This whole concept reminded me of the '60s' idea of everyone helping each other. Today, everyone says, 'Well what's in it for me?' With this, there's no money exchange. It's about doing things for each other."

Raynes said the only way this process will work is if people spend the time they collect.

"If you don't swirl the currency around, it's not going to work," she said.

The Sussex time bank's web site and member site offers all kinds of options for average citizens to provide their services to one another.

"Right now, with spring, the big thing is landscaping – people asking to have their leaves raked or their gardens tended to. I plan to encourage people to get creative during the winter months – offer to teach someone a language or play an instrument."


The Sussex County Hour Exchange currently has 41 members with 139 hours exchanged so far, and the founders only hope to grow.

"I want it to become really, really active," Raynes said. "The idea is that this becomes a community in itself. It's about people getting to know each other, being neighborly. And the whole concept is that we do this without money."

Raynes gives much of the credit to her co-founder McCarthy and their art director Leah McCloskey for getting the time bank up and running.

"We're all volunteers," she said. "It's been rewarding and very exciting getting this going. We really believe in the product and just want people to take advantage of it. It's been pretty fun."

Sussex time bank makes it easy to get things done without spending a dime

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