Meet Ellen, an Entrepreneurial TimeBanker

Ellen is an active and vibrant 84-year-old linkAges TimeBank member who lives in Palo Alto. We interviewed her to learn about her life as an entrepreneur and her recent linkAges TimeBank exchange, where she received web development help from Katarina, a tech-savvy TimeBank member.

Ellen enjoyed a successful career in the travel profession. In 1960, after completing an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, she joined Bungey Travel, an early adopter of American Airlines’ SABRE computer reservations system. Soon after, Ellen launched Sequoia Travel, a Bungey offshoot on the Stanford University campus, the first of its kind. While there, she established the first overseas group tour program for students, which became a model for college alumni tour programs across the country.

Ellen first read about timebanking in an article in the New York Times. She gained personal experience with linkAges TimeBank locally through a pilot program at Avenidas Village, an organization that supports successful aging. Ellen then attended a linkAges TimeBank orientation at Red Rock Coffee in Mountain View. She was especially intrigued by how the program forged multigenerational connections.

Ellen is a passionate advocate for public transportation. She feels that her fellow seniors do not utilize public transport nearly enough. To change that she wants to create an online resource to promote public transport options targeted at seniors. Her goal is to encourage seniors to adopt public transport as a way of life, not just as an occasional alternative.

As a big-picture person and with little interest in the drudgery of HTML coding, Ellen was looking for suggestions as to how best design a website that would appeal to older adults. On the linkAges TimeBank website she noticed an offer of web development from Katarina, an active TimeBank member. The two met for lunch at the Avenidas Senior Center in Palo Alto, which provides tools for active aging. The pair used the Avenidas computer lab to explore web design options. Katarina helped Ellen map out a web design strategy, a simple site which Ellen refers to as, “A plan B for seniors.” So far, the site’s in the beginning design stage, but Ellen feels that, in the right hands, this site could not only be useful to seniors, but could be monetized.

Ellen’s passion for helping her community, coupled with adroit business skills proves that you can be a successful entrepreneur at any age. Katarina was an invaluable catalyst for Ellen’s site. Without linkAges TimeBank as a hub for community engagement, these two inspirational women may never have met. We’re grateful to both for exemplifying the TimeBank’s mission of multigenerational support.


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