When we say “health”, it includes not only physical health but also holistic wellness, which is often related to the intersection of systemic oppression. In an effort to continue nurturing a culture of health, we decided to start a new section – “Pillars of Our Shared Work” – in our monthly newsletter to talk about the foundation that Six Degrees is built on. We are eager to share with you thoughts and resources on some of the topics that we are passionate about. In this section, we ask: How can we together build a community that values awareness for inclusiveness, respect for shared labour, and creative fostering engaged participation? We would also like to invite you to get in touch with us on any related topics that you are interested. This month and next we discuss our work exchange program at Six Degrees!
The inner work of the Work Exchange program
Since the beginning, the people who have offered their presence, energy, skills and compassion in exchange for Community Acupuncture treatments at Six Degrees have been an invaluable pillar of the place we call Six Degrees Health. This month we speak to the inherent value of this program, we say thank you and wish wellness to Simon who is leaving the role of Work Exchange Co-ordinator and welcome Jo who is our new Work Exchange and Office Coordinator!
Why do we say Work Exchange and not say volunteer?
This question has shown up over the years countless times an the answer is layered. From the surface our work exchange program is seen as a volunteer system, but when we go deeper we see the impact that the exchange of services has on the whole operation of this community based health clinic. Always, Community Acupuncture clinics have worked with people who offered their time in exchange for service as a way to builds that practice. It is the only way most of us start up and continue to operate as we function in a fixed rate system using a sliding scale model.
The importance of the use of Work Exchange is in the honouring of the energy being exchanged. We think of it as a job where each exchanger receives payment in the form of treatment in exchange for their energy , skill and presence.
Another aspect of this is the exchange of Qi. When we are offering treatment we are working with our own Qi system(s) and the universal Qi all around us to offer Acupuncture to your Qi system. When we do work exchange this expands to include Qi movement through community. People use the work exchange system for more reasons than economic need. Often, the relationship is one of mutual community building, a sharing of skills and energy to support every person who comes through the doors and each persons presence (be it front desk, cleaning,office coordination, promotional support) impacts the whole community of people who offer or receive services
Simon, our most recent Work Exchange coordinator did an incredible job of refining and growing our Work Exchange program. He revised and enhanced the Office Assistant training manual, trained Office Assistants, worked with our Work exchange crew to build stronger infrastructure within the organizational aspects of Six Degrees so we can better support our clients, AND he organized a successful fundraiser in 2015 that helped raise money to cover increasing expenses at Six Degrees. He did this with care and regard for all people involved and he offered his energy with abundance and respect. He is moving on to continue his academic career and share his presence and warmth with more folks, and will also be seen behind the front desk on occasion when he picks up a shift here and there. We want to formally thank him for this gift of his dedication, his time and his thorough thinking that helped us enhance the Work Exchange program and the entire Six Degrees Health Clinic.
Jo Alcampo, has taken the expanded role of Work Exchange and Office Coordinator and we are delighted to have them. Jo has already begun refining our systems and supporting us through hiring more Office Assistants. Settling into this role, Jo will be seen in the clinic 3 days a week and is reachable at this email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, should you want to know more about how to get involved at Six Degrees. Next month we will feature Jo and hear from her as we continue to share more about the Work Exchange role and its importance at Six Degrees as a model to build community, support community and make health accessible, not only by offering treatment on exchange, but by embracing a community of people to create the space we share.