By Mary Owen
Three local women are helping their neighbors save money by sharing resources and exchanging items they no longer need. What makes their task unusual is the method by which they carry it out.
Barbara Parras, Amber Pierce and Marilyn Brenden are dedicated to helping others survive tough times. All three happened to belong to the same Yahoo! groups in the Willamette Valley area when they decided to start their own in Silverton: SilvertonOrRecycle, now called SilvertonOrRecycleAndResources.
Brenden, who runs workshops on “How to Live Practically Free” in Silverton. Parras was co-owner of SalemOrRecycle, which also focuses on members’ needs, and is the moderator of Freecycle Keizer and FreecycleSalem-KeizerCafé, similar groups. The network came into existence when founder, Deron Beal, recognized that if everyone could pass along odd items rather than throw them away, landfills would not fill up as quickly, according to Parras.
“Barb thought Silverton should have a group, too, and she asked me if I would help as co-owner since I had had success in starting and promoting some other Yahoo! groups,” Brenden said.
The three took positions on the group that naturally fell into their areas of strength. Brenden provides resources and Pierce agreed to take on the job of moderator after Parras decided a new type of group was just what people in the Willamette Valley needed.
“Not just another recycling group, but a networking group,” said Parras. She recruits new members and posts offers. “It can be about a great place to eat or where to get shelter, food books and low-cost or no-cost school clothes. With this economy, it turns out to be more important than I anticipated.”
“People from the small towns explained to me that they felt excluded in the larger recycling groups in the metropolitan areas,” she said. Owned and operated locally, the group helps people in need in Silverton, Mt. Angel, Scotts Mills and Molalla.
“We also share information about job opportunities, volunteering, free or nearly free activities, classes and events for fun or for learning, good deals we found online or in the markets, grant opportunities, garage and rummage sales, clothing or fundraising drives to help the needy, helpful information like a recipe or how to clean something, sources of free or inexpensive books and magazines, locations of our favorite second-hand and consignment stores, and so forth,” Brenden said.
Parras added, “Unlike other freecycle groups, trading and bartering is allowed as is the posting of lost animals and recipes. Chatting is welcome and encouraged to be posted to the board.”
SilvertonOrRecycleAndResources also allows posting of items and events that cost money and posts of re-homing pets and downloads of online software and coupons.
“We also allow links to other Web sites,” she said. “Often people reach out to others on the site for help during a crisis in their lives.”
Both groups are “G-rated,” so as not to offend users.
“Once people understand things are different on our group, they realize the freedom that it provides,” Parras said.
Group users must have a Yahoo! account to sign up for SilvertonOrRecycleAndResources, but both are free and easy to join. Instructions can be found on the Yahoo! home page.