About Reston USE

What is USE?

A Neighbor-to-Neighbor Time Bank “Barter” System. (The image at left is of the printing on the shopping bag members receive when they join Reston USE.)

Membership in Reston USE is open to people who live or work in Reston or Herndon, Virginia.

The Useful Services Exchange (of Reston, Virginia) is a time-trading barter system that originated 35 years ago.  Henry Ware (1908-1999), a retired economist, felt there was a need to trade expertise for services that were often too small for a paid professional. Since then the idea has spread nationally and internationally.

Reston USE has continued to thrive in Reston as a way for neighbors to exchange services without monetary cost.  (Although, if a service requires the use of materials, such as gasoline, paint, food, etc., the person receiving the service pays for the materials.) Repayment is “in kind,” by performing services for other USE members.  The accounts of USE members are not kept in dollars, but in hours of USE credit.

Reston USE brings together people with various needs and people who can meet those needs.  Often lasting friendships have blossomed as a result of these exchanges.

USE encourages all ages to join. High school students may offer tutoring, pet sitting, yard work, snow shoveling, computer assistance, and other services.  We also encourage members to share special talents, such as teaching music or art lessons.

Many people do not have family in the Reston area, or do not have family members who are available during the day. Members can call another USE member to get a ride to a dentist, doctor, or the airport.

Having a party? A number of members offer food preparation, party planning, alterations, and fresh baked bread.  Members also offer small carpentry, lend/share tools, yard work, and tax assistance. (See the page on USE Services for a more extensive listing of current services available.)

As a neighbor-to-neighbor time-sharing system, USE does not expect a professional plumber or electrician to volunteer services for which they need compensation.  Services are limited to those that can be done in a few hours and which would not have a large monetary value if provided commercially. The atmosphere of exchanges is one of small friendly exchanges.

How does USE work?

USE maintains a central registry of members and services performed for USE credits. On joining, each member receives a list of members and an index of services that each member offers.  A member must contact directly any member offering a desired service and agree on the value of the project in USE hours. When the task is completed, both members giving and receiving the services must record it by e-mailing RestonUseTimeBank@gmail.com or calling the person responsible for recording USE exchange hours. (This number is provided in the USE member handout)

USE credits are for time only.  Once credit is equal to one hour of work.  USE members may ask for needed services before they have accumulated the necessary credit hours.  The hours can be made up later, although USE does not permit anyone to be too heavily overdrawn.

What USE does not do:

USE is not an employment agency or a business. It does not trade commodities. USE does not assign people to jobs. Each member who arranges a service through USE takes full responsibility for using those members made known by USE.

USE does not attempt to attempt to ascertain whether governmental or other authorization permits, special training, bonds or other items are required. This is the sole and exclusive responsibility of the parties engaged in any service transaction for which USE credit is being earned.