Last week we were introduced the Time Exchange of the North Shore, a local organization committed to providing a sense of community to all of its members. This week we’ll meet Michael Doherty, a valuable member of the Time Exchange who understands the value in being able to give and receive support from others.

Why the Time Exchange?

Michael shared the reasons why he initially joined the Time Exchange.

“Three years ago I had a stroke and was unable to return to work-I was pretty successful as an international banker. It was tough at first, but once I adjusted, I realized that I wanted to give back to the community. My mother set the example when we were young by all her volunteering; she taught me that reaching out to your community is rewarding.”

Michael further explained the value of being able to give to others, despite the long term effects of his stroke.

“The time exchange is like the people in the past who all got together to build a log cabin for their neighbor. It gives you a sense of community. I chose this organization because they see me as someone who has something to offer, not as someone with a disability.”

A valuable exchange

Michael started building time exchange hours by using his truck to help people move. He knew he couldn’t do the lifting or carrying but he could do the driving and offer the use of his truck.

As he became more involved, Michael was asked to join the “Kitchen Cabinet”, a small group of members who support the coordinator and board in managing the organization. The kitchen cabinet meets once a month, with separate committees meeting more often. Every hour of meeting time is banked in the exchange for services.

As Michael built up his hours, it was his turn to ask for help.

“I had a walkway at home from my fence to a deck that I was having trouble with after my stroke. When some members of the exchange heard about it, they offered to rebuild the walk for me. It took three men all day; 27 hours of time exchanged. It was a great day with the music going and people working together. Now when my parents visit, they can even get over the hilly terrain.”

Everyone can give back

Michael summarized his feelings being able to contribute to others.

“Just because I am disabled, it doesn’t mean I can’t help. Every time I help someone else, I get a shot in the arm of my own self esteem. For people with disabilities, I would say you need to find out what you can do, not what you can’t.”

3 Comments on Giving Back: Time Exchange Promotes Ability verses Disability

  1. Everyone is an asset. There are no deficits. And yes, we are defined by what we can do, not what we can’t do. I too am considered disabled. This was discovered after I finished 2 degrees: one in Business Management and the other in Opticianry. But I found I could not work. That was a blow, but things got better when I found Time Banking. I have been involved for 10 years now, because it’s the extra safety net I need and can provide to others. And everyone has a need. The playing field is level between the haves and have nots because all services have equal value.

  2. I can’t more agree that community is a must for all people. I grew up i n a small town in Northern Maine. I was a menber of my community where I made friend with my peer group, went to sun school and church, learn to work in my Dad’s general store, went fishing, hunting, and hiking with my grandpa in the woods. Even though I could go to grammar and high schools, I was home schooled by my mom and aunt through grammar school and men through high school. I went to collrge in Maine and than to U-Mass in Boston. I have been working in human services for many years. But I consider growing up in a small town made me who I am today.
    Larry Espling

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