Building Community One Hour at a Time

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Tips for Successful Exchanging

One of our members recently had this to say about how they approach exchanging within the Ypsilanti Time Bank.

– We are a community of individuals, who have varying levels of skills, but we are not always professionals at the skill. Have some flexibility in your expectations.

– Anything that connects you to other humans has value. I am not particularly handy, nor structurally sound, so I rarely do heavy lifting work. I do love to read to people, help people process things (I once assisted someone in cleaning out her deceased mother’s home, not by lifting or sorting, but by listening to stories about the objects and asking questions to help that person make decisions. Anything has value.)

– Being willing to ask for help, and not get discouraged if no one answers, is key. I always ask the hour exchange first, but I am willing to move on and hire it out or forget it if there is not a person interested in doing. I don’t take it personally if I go through a long string of requests that no one raises their hand to complete.

– Sometimes people are flaky, love them anyway!

– Asking for help is one of the key ways to create a relationship. With mature organizations like ours, what we start to see a lot of is a strong component of people who often “do” but rarely “ask” — that causes imbalance. It is just a much of a gift to allow someone to help you as it is to help others. Recognize the generosity in allowing someone to help you.

– Perhaps most importantly, feed the tree. I often create opportunities that allow people to exchange hours easily. When I have a party, I always do a call out for people to exchange for food, set-up, take-down, services, etc. I actively seek out ways that people can easily exchange hours with me. If I ever need hours, I just volunteer to do something for the hour exchange like a tea time or an orientation. Keeping the hours moving is key to our long-term success.

So, I guess this boils down to — give help, ask for help, be flexible and don’t place professional-level expectations on what is essentially a neighbor helping neighbor experience. I have some of my strongest Ypsi relationships as a result of the hour exchange and I am very grateful!

We are always happy to help if you are having difficulty finding the right services or are frustrated with exchanging. Good luck out there!

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