Hello And Update From Jenny Gallagher, CEO Of LinkAges / Help-Full

Dear linkAges Members,

I hope this note finds you well. I had the pleasure of meeting some of you at a recent linkAges member event.  My co-founder Shamshad Khan, myself and the rest of the Help-Full team have been working hard to support the linkAges Community so it’s always great to meet some of you in person.  During our “member mingle” my team and I had the opportunity to speak with some of you, and some questions came up about  the differences between LinkAges and Help-Full, why the change was made, whether you would have to pay for your membership, and what would happen to the hours you have accumulated. In this letter, I’ll answer those questions and update you on our plans going forward.

How linkAges Got Started

Sutter Health’s Palo Alto Medical Foundation developed linkAges as a 3-year pilot program, which was  funded by grants from various sources. The aim of the linkAges pilot was to create a network to connect people of all ages to support individual and community health.  Its overarching approach was to provide opportunities for meaningful connections and empower individuals to improve each other’s health.

Once Sutter Health successfully concluded the 3-year pilot, they  evaluated next steps. In keeping with Sutter Health’s belief in the power of partnerships to enhance community health, they considered various organizations to whom they could transfer linkAges.  They selected Help-Full, given the strong alignment of our respective missions.

How Help-Full Got Started

A few years ago, my mother’s health was declining.  While she was fortunate enough to afford in-home caregivers who assisted her, what she lacked were opportunities to continue to stay engaged in pursuits she enjoyed, to continue to have purpose and give back, and to find new friends and others with whom she was compatible.  I felt helpless living far away and not being able to help her find such fulfillment in her life. So, I left my job at AARP in Washington DC and moved back to the Bay Area. There I reconnected with my friend and former colleague Shamshad Khan. Like me, Shamshad was concerned about the well-being of his parents living in India.  So together we started Help-Full out of a desire to help families like our own.

Help-Full’s mission is to make life more enjoyable at any stage.  We set out to create a community network where members of all ages can give and get practical help, exchanges skills, and share interests.  Our vision is not only to support such a community here in the Bay Area but also in other regions as well. As families are increasingly spread out geographically, we see the need to create a network of communities where friends and family no longer need to let time, distance or money keep them from helping those they care about.  Help-Full members can give help in their local Help-Full community, earn hours, and then have the option to give hours to loved ones who live in other areas.

How linkAges Connected with Help-Full

During 2017, we had the good fortune to connect with Sutter Health and learn about their plans to find a new “home” for linkAges.  After successfully concluding their 3-year pilot, Sutter Health sought an organization to whom they could transfer linkAges, one that would continue to operate, grow and enhance the linkAges community network. We were honored that Sutter Health selected Help-Full

While linkAges and Help-Full’s missions are similar, our beginnings were different.  Unlike linkAges, which was created by Sutter Health and supported by funding through Palo Alto Medical Foundation,  we are a startup with all the promise and challenges that goes with an early stage organization. Our team may be small but we’re hearty!  We are building a mission-driven company that will benefit peoples’ lives and have a business model that will be self-sustaining.  During the coming months, we will be evaluating options for organizational partners, such as healthcare companies. Our plan is that our organizational partners will pay for some or all of their customers’ community memberships, keeping Help-Full as affordable as possible for individual members.

How Does This Affect Your Membership?

This brings me to our plans for next year.  While our plans may change from time to time, here is what I can tell you:

  • If you were a linkAges member before January 1, 2018 (the transition date from Sutter Health), you are a “founding member. ” As such, we will provide you with the same community network you have enjoyed – free of charge – for at least next year.  At this time, we can’t commit to a free service beyond 2019 but our intention is to continue to honor your status as a founding member.

  • If you joined linkAges after January 1, 2018 you also are very important to us.  We unfortunately cannot offer the linkAges Community for free to new members, but it is our intent to make the community as affordable for as many people as possible.  We will keep you updated with any changes to pricing as soon as they are finalized. For now, we hope you’ll continue to enjoy the service for free.

  • In the coming months, we will be upgrading from “Community Hours” to “Time Tokens”.  Time Tokens are similar to Community Hours but will have increased functionality, such as the ability to be given to family and friends who live in another geographic area.  You may be wondering “what will happen to my Community Hours?” Founding members who have Community Hours in their account will still be able to exchange them with other founding members,  just as you always have. We will provide more information before we introduce Time Tokens.

  • Since the transition started in January, we have continued to use both organizations’ names  – “linkAges” and “Help-Full” – and have maintained both websites with their distinctive “look and feel.”  In the coming months, we will bring these together into a single, unified website and member experience. For now, you can still access the linkAges Community as you have in the past  – at community.linkages.org.  We will send out an announcement before changes to the website are made.

  • We will be conducting a pilot with a healthcare provider in Phoenix AZ starting later this year.  This partnership will give us an opportunity to continue to refine our service, especially as it relates to connecting friends and family and enabling them to exchange hours across communities.

One of Help-Full’s values is integrity – to communicate and act with transparency and honesty.  While our plans may need to change and adapt, we will keep you updated along the way. We are working hard to honor and support what has been built within the linkAges Community.  Although we are a small organization, we will do our best to provide good service, keep you informed, and answer any questions you might have. If we don’t have the answer, we’ll say so.

Finally, as a mentor of mine often said, “feedback is a gift.”  So, we would love to hear from you with any comments, questions, suggestions, what you like, and what you don’t – all of it helps us learn and get better.

Wishing each of you all the best,

Jenny Gallagher

CEO, Help-Full and linkAges

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