Hello, My name is Jerome Scriptunas. I incorporated YTBNJ.org in November 2019 and resigned from full-time employment to run this organization. I draw no salary. We are a small organization with no employees and no physical presence.
I worked initially in private industry, and since 2001 in the public and nonprofit sector. I've been involved with community projects as long as I can remember from the role modeling in my family. YTB fills a gap that I believe is under-attended. Youth need more opportunities to practice skills needed full-time in adulthood. I have seen this need repeatedly demonstrated over decades of observation and work with youth and with youth-serving organizations. In short, YTB provides some opportunities to the youth it reaches. And a long time ago I came to understand and appreciate that doing a little bit of good is a good thing. As the sayings go - it's always the right time to do the right thing. And, if something is worth doing it's worth doing. If not now, when? If not me, who?
YTB is a practice of experiential learning and exposure to servant leadership in action. The core of YTB is rooted in a concept called co-production - which involves managers, developers, end-users (if you will) in collaborative, co-creation, To bring it down to earth, YTB helps youth increase awareness of the community, expand their network of safe, supportive adults and have safe chances to practice responsibility and service as they transition to adulthood. The reality is that many youth, thousands and more, do not have enough of these experiences and opportunities. Great for those that do. But that's not great overall. What happens is that we have an ever increasing gap in the digital divide, social divide, racial divide. This is not win-win. If COVID-19 teaches us anything it is that life is not a zero-sum game; the person with the most toys does not win; competition is not what it's all about; and ultimately, we don't win unless we all win. Yes, we are all in "this" together. And "this" is not COVID-19. "This" existed before COVID-19 and continues forever. Humanity, at times, is a slow learner. We have forgotten some ancient principles. YTB seeks to bring the few it touches back to those roots. Below is some of the story to YTB. Stay safe. Be nice. Help each other.
Youth TimeBanking is a form of Timebanking, established in 1980 by Edgar Cahn, who has a deep concern for social justice and civic engagement.
Timebanking is a system of service exchange that uses time as the currency. Timebanking recognizes, honors, and values civic engagement and how we benefit from and interact with the “Core Economy”. The Core Economy involves those things that are not easily measured and not thoroughly represented in our Money Economy. Examples of things in the Core Economy are raising families, helping neighbors, and keeping communities vibrant. Timebanking involves a system of tracking the things we do with and for each other. Each service hour we give is a deposit into our timebank account. We build our account by offering services to others and use our credits as currency to receive service and support from others. Timebanking is based on 5 Core Values. The first value is Asset: Every one of us has something of value to share with someone else. The others are: Redefining work, Reciprocity, Social Networks, and Respect, which are described at https://timebanks.org/
Youth TimeBanking or YTB was inspired by a chapter in Edgar Cahn’s book, No More Throw Away People: the co-production imperative. In October 2012, I spent an afternoon with Edgar Cahn. Part of my work at the time involved evaluating how things were going with the youth that my organization worked with. Many things were in good shape and improving. A few things, though, seemed to be in a low holding pattern. The toughest areas to gain a foothold were helping youth increase the number of informal supports on their team and making at least a few more community connections. My interest in meeting with Dr. Cahn was to get his thoughts on what I could do. His advice was simple, direct, and actionable. He understood the work of my organization and said our model is very good. He said the youth need to have responsibility in their plan of care. And that this responsibility should be to give service to others. The plans of care were over-represented with services and supports that the youth received. These services were mostly from providers who were "paid to care." and were time-limited. The youth needed ongoing experience of being actively involved with doing things for others. Transformation involves opportunities for the “helped to become helpers.”
When my meeting and visit with Edgar Cahn ended, I thanked him for his time and guidance. He looked me in the eyes and “Do Something.” His words and advice stayed with me to this day – “Give youth responsibility in their community plan” – “Do something.” Although the ideas behind Youth TimeBanking are simple and straight forward, the coming together of the model we have today still took several years and lots of trial and error. In March 2016 YTB achieved liftoff and youth started participating. YTB is a tree that grew slowly and steadily in the following years.
2018 and 2019 were breakthrough years. In 2018, I presented YTB at a conference in Chicago and with other organizations in New Jersey. In 2019 YTB was recognized as being an Exemplary practice by CARF International. Later in the year, YTB was presented at a conference in Palm Springs. In late 2019 YTBNJ.org was incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization so that YTB could be offered to more youth in more areas. By the end of 2019, YTBNJ.org received the IRS 501(c)(3) designation as a tax-exempt nonprofit, making it eligible to receive tax-deductible donations and apply for grants. In early spring of 2020 YTB created a project called YTB100 in response to the social distancing necessary during COVID-19. In the fall of 2020 I received an award from NJAMHAA for Technology Innovation recognizing the work towards a shared vision of YTB innovation, Community Resource Networks, and tools to track progress.
YTB provides opportunities for service to others, builds commitment to caring about community, and supports transition to adulthood. YTB's goal is for the helped to become helpers. YTB transforms. YTB is a rocket!
Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. -- Robert Frost