About 40 people turned up for SkillShare’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Potluck on Sunday, January 10th from 4:00 to 7:00pm at Unity Church in Boulder. Co-president Jan DeCourtney and outgoing treasurer Howard Lambert shared SkillShare’s accomplishments over the past year.

Taking the long view, SkillShare is now 13 years old. Over that time there have been over 12,000 exchanges between 500 individual members. That figure includes member-to-member exchanges and gifts of hours from one member to another. Of the one-to-one exchanges, the most popular were

  • Transportation for medical appointments, shopping, and errands
  • Massage
  • Computer assistance and advice
  • Moving, hauling, and packing assistance.

Looking at 2015 alone, 3,767.4 hours were exchanged. That number includes one-to-one exchanges, gifts from one member to another, gifts from one member to one of our funds, and hours earned by members working to help SkillShare itself. Pretty impressive!

Work Teams

Christine Palafox and former copresident David Ward talked about the development and growth of SkillShare’s new work teams. Christine, who had he idea for the moving and cleaning teams, spoke about how the moving team has moved five members already and that she hopes the cleaning crew will gather the same kind of steam this year. The whole “teams can do more” idea came to David when he noticed that no matter how many exchanges he did, he was sure that more could be done if he was not working alone. “With a team of people all working together on the same exchange, we could get more done in less time,” he said, explaining that he’d gone to help Robin Wells with a short-notice move not long ago and what should have been three or four hours turned into 14. Luckily he was able (and willing) to cancel his other appointments for that day, but he was convinced that a moving team would be a great addition to SkillShare.

Once Christine got wind of it, she was equally enthusiastic – having moved several times in the past few years with little to no assistance. She created an outline of what the committee would do and how it would work and began letting members know about how to participate. She serves as the dispatcher, collecting requests and coordinating the arrival of movers and packers. SkillShare has collected a stash of boxes and purchased blankets and dollies. What they need is more strong backs and more packers.

The Cleaning Fairies Team would consist of teams of four people working together for one hour to clean the homes of members requesting their service. Contact her directly to sign up as a fairy (it’s necessary to have that set up before we can request the service). You will then be contacted on a projectby-project basis and will be able to accept or reject participation each time, according to your own availability.

The Home Repair Team is limiting itself to working on screens (windows and doors), installing grab-bars in bathrooms and on stairways, and installing weather stripping and window film to keep out the cold. Perhaps there will be additional offerings in  the future, but for now, those interested in doing these things for fellow members should contact David directly.

David, who decided at the meeting to stand for election to the board as a write in, reminded us that by creating and utilizing teams we allow each other to “share the bliss of having a need and share the bliss of filling a need,” because, “having a need is an invitation to grace.” Another way that David is helping SkillShare members achieve that state of grace is by offering the opportunity to assist the Center for People with Disabilities in transporting its members to doctor’s appointments, supermarkets, and cultural events. He has a mini-van that seats 13 and needs SkillShare members whose offers include driving to contact him about volunteering.

Member of the Year

This year’s Member of the Year is Esther Flessner. She was chosen by the board because, “she always comes forward without being asked.” Over the past year she has mastered the complex member deactivation process, which includes multiple notifications to insure that no one is deactivated unless they really and truly want to be. Howard, who did the job in the past and trained Esther, said she has “done an excellent job on a difficult assignment.”

Website Upgrades

Those of you who spend a lot of time online can’t help but have noticed that our SkillShare website needs some TLC. Heather Mann, who has been involved with the website on and off for several years, has teamed up with Lorena Fox to give it a complete overhaul. It’s going to be a brand new site – but it’s going to take some time, and lots of work. The new site will be device-responsive (meaning that it will automatically optimize itself for viewing on whatever you’re using to look at it, desktop, laptop, tablet, phone, etc.). It will be designed to appeal to a somewhat younger demographic, and will explain clearly to prospective members what we do and why they should join. There will even be Spanish translations available for most of the content. The process of joining will be streamlined and easy access will be created to hOurworld’s site, our Meet-up and Facebook pages, and a calendar of events. In addition, there will be a SkillShare blog, which will deliver the content you receive each month in the SKOOP a little at a time over each month, and will offer other information through a weekly email to prospective members. Lorena and Heather are hoping for a May launch, but that will require assistance from other members. You can keep obtain regular updates on their progress by reading the SKOOP each month and you can join the website development team, by contacting their project leader, Jan DeCourtney.