Swap your Stuff, Build Community

I haven’t blogged much about the Merrimack Valley Time Exchange since we wrote our post about it last year, but in the meantime we’ve become members, both benefited from and offered our time to others, and I joined the Advisory Committee. Because I’m on the Advisory Committee, I get to help organize events like Saturday’s Community Swap, which is a really fun event. It’s a giant rummage sale, but without the sale part: everything’s free! You can bring stuff you’d like to get rid off, too, this is an excellent place to direct all of the no use to you but still useful stuff you’ve been spring cleaning out of your closet and basement.

This event is on Saturday from 12:30pm – 4:30pm at the Lowell Senior Center (on Broadway across from Market Basket). There’s a facebook page here and you can also contact Joy, the coordinator at 978-452-7523 x 815. Chris and I went to the fall version of this and it was really fun, we went home with books, kitchen stuff and a badly needed ironing board.

I love the Time Exchange, which is run by Coalition for a Better Acre. It’s a great way to meet your neighbors, and get help for exactly the kind of things you want your neighbors to help with. The main way we’ve used it so far is petsitting: it’s such a pleasure to leave our pets with someone and go on a vacation without fretting about how much it will cost, and they’ve gotten great care. I’ve scrubbed floors, helped hang pictures, reorginized kitchen cabinets. Chris has done spring cleaning and helped a community organization with their grant process. We both shoveled snow during this crazy winter.

Lots of people need help but are bad at asking for it. Nobody wants to feel like a charity case. The Time Exchange is a way for people to reach out and ask for help and offer to help, a structure to help community grow the way we’d all like it to be. When you join the Time Exchange, you post offers of things you’re willing to do, everything from basic skills to things you’ve learned to do with special training. When you need something, you post a request on the online board, or search the offers of others to see if there’s already a good fit. You earn hours by helping, you spend them when you get help. Important to the concept is the idea that everyone can do something, everyone has something to offer. An hour is always an hour, everyone’s time is worth the same.

I’d really encourage anyone whose thinking about getting involved to join, there’s no reason not to and you’d be surprised how handy it can be. I’d be happy to chat with anyone who wants to know a little more, or if you have tough questions you can contact Joy at 978-452-7523 x 815.


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