When you walk by Jim Deveny of the St. Pete Timebank, you immediately hear the sound of a knife being sharpened.
A member of the time bank since 2018, Deveny is there to help out in any way he can.
When we first saw that Deveny was sharpening knives, we didn’t really think much of it, but shame on us for not realizing just how useful it is.
The point of mutual aid and assisting community members is precisely this: Help comes in many different forms, and can be large and small acts.
Deveny scraped his knife along the edges of his four-way diamond knife sharpener. Each scrape was oddly satisfying. He told us why a sharp knife is so important.
“It’s nice to have a nice sharp knife when you’re working in the kitchen,” Deveny said. He looked up occasionally after carefully inspecting the blade. “You always put water on it, because what this does -- it helps lift particles as you’re rolling or running the blade across the top.”
Deveny had a sponge and a red Solo cup filled with water, that he used to dab the surface of the sharpener. He was methodical and exact.
“Another little trick to find out where you’re actually taking the metal off is, take a permanent marker and you just take that and go to the blade so that edge you see where the words been coded,” Deveny said.
Deveny marked the edge of the blade with a black Sharpie, then continued, “Now, when I go back and do it again, this kind of helps to show me the edge of the blade that is actually being sharpened.”
St. Pete Timebank members use their skills to accumulate hours within the network. They can then use those hours later to receive something in return.
Deveny has many talents, and has provided lots of services over the years.
“I’ve sharpened scissors,” he said. “I can take headlights that have fogged up on cars and polish them up. I do welding, I do woodwork and plumbing.”
Deveny said he likes to teach others how to take care of problems, noting that it’s great to fix an issue, but teaching others how to take care of things strengthens the community.
He’s helped so many people over the last decade and a half.
Why does he help? What drives him?
Deveny said it’s simple.
“It’s just in my nature. That’s all I can say.”
Well, almost all he could say, adding, “I’m a helper.”