linkAges Launches in Santa Cruz

We’re delighted to announce the expansion of linkAges, our neighborhood service-exchange network, into Santa Cruz! The linkAges team has been busy meeting with local community organizations, city officials and community members to spread the word about linkAges and adapt the program to the city’s unique culture. We’ve been inspired by the Santa Cruz community’s positive response to the program and look forward to helping create meaningful social connections across the city.

Santa Cruz Tech Day participantsWe kicked off linkAges member recruitment at our Tech Day for Older Adults event at Live Oak Senior Center on December 5, 2015. More than 30 seniors attended the event, met new people and received helpful tips for using their tech devices. Attendees surprised our team by bringing snacks for everyone to munch on throughout the day. We were thrilled to be welcomed so warmly.

One attendee, Cindy, learned how to use Skype so she can chat withcindy getting help with skype her friends in France. Others learned how to get the most out of their iPads and smartphones from tech-savvy volunteers like Elaine, a history professor at University of California, Santa Cruz. Local community members, linkAges members, and linkAges staff volunteered to teach technology skills, and many friendships formed between the older adults and volunteers.

Since Tech Day, we have also hosted several linkAges orientations at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History to introduce local community members to the benefits of linkAges and help them sign up.

Thank you to the Live Oak Senior Center and Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History for their generous support and donation of space.

Upcoming linkAges Events

We’ll be hosting more exciting events in Santa Cruz in the upcoming months. If you or someone you know in Santa Cruz would like to join linkAges, go to http://www.linkages.org, click “Sign Up” in the top right corner and use the code sccommunity. Check out our Facebook page for news about upcoming events.

 

A New Look for linkAges TimeBank

We are excited to announce the release of a newly redesigned website for the linkAges TimeBank.

You will notice the simple design, easier to navigate menus, and more member options to personalize your linkAges experience. At just a glance, you can now view new members, events and groups, and hours in your account. The site is also available on multiple devices, giving you an improved user experience whether you access it from your personal computer, tablet or smartphone.

1. Welcome_New Homepage

Three things you’ll love about the new linkAges TimeBank website:

  • Registration – New members can register using a seamless registration process with shorter steps and just a few clicks.
  • Profile Builder – A step-by-step profile builder allows you to easily add information about yourself to share with other members and start making new member connections.
  • Groups – Connect with other members around interests, hobbies and needs through public and private groups, and support local non-profit organizations in your city.

There are many more features to this new rollout. We invite you to take some time and check out the new site.

Making new friendships through TimeBanking

In June, linkAges TimeBank members welcomed the start of summer with a potluck hosted by one of their fellow members, Wendy.

Wendy is a retired home economics teacher who lives in Mountain View with her dog, Amber. Nowadays, she enjoys golfing, playing bridge, travelling and making new friends through the TimeBank. In fact, one of the main reasons why the TimeBank appealed to her was the opportunity to meet new people and exchange skills.

“I first heard about the linkAges TimeBank at El Camino YMCA, and I thought it was a great idea and a wonderful way to meet other people,” said Wendy. “I have a lot of skills that I like sharing with others, so [joining the TimeBank] seemed like a good way to do this.”

Wendy at red rock orientation
Wendy at her linkAges TimeBank orientation

Since she joined the TimeBank in fall 2014, Wendy has had many opportunities to forge new friendships.

Through the TimeBank website, Wendy met her first exchange partner, Gloria, and the two discovered that they were actually neighbors. During their exchange, Gloria helped clean out Wendy’s gutters and even offered to properly dispose of Wendy’s hazardous paint materials. In this same exchange, Wendy taught Gloria how to make a perfect pie crust, which is a recipe that Gloria still makes for her husband today.

More recently, Wendy connected with another member, Sidney, who had just moved to Mountain View from Taiwan with her father and sister. Wendy gives rides to Sidney’s father, who is taking ESL classes at a school nearby, and even offered to practice English with him. Wendy was also able to share one of her passions with Sidney and her father: playing bridge.

Besides doing service exchanges, Wendy enjoys connecting with other others at our monthly TimeBank Tales events. She has “caroled for a cause” at El Camino Hospital and brought her dog Amber along for a puppy playdate with other pet-lovers on the TimeBank.

Among her favorite event so far have been the technology days for older adults. As a new iPad owner, Wendy appreciated the opportunity to learn the tips and tricks of using a tablet from younger, tech-saavy TimeBank members and high school volunteers who were eager to share their knowledge with others.

“I take iPad classes at the Apple Store and the Mountain View Senior Center, but sometimes they go too fast for me. I learn all this stuff, and then I forget it,” Wendy said. “Although my technology skills are still limited, I really appreciated how patient the [volunteers] were at these tech events.”

Wendy receiving tech help from TimeBank member, Mark
Wendy receiving tech help from TimeBank member, Mark

After a year of exchanging and engaging as a member, Wendy wanted to give back to the TimeBank community by hosting a potluck at her home.

“I really enjoy having people over,” said Wendy, “I love potlucks because you get to eat so many different things. I always encourage potlucks with my friends because they’re so much fun and an easy way to entertain.”

Over 25 TimeBank members and their family and friends came to the event in June. One member also brought their dog over to keep Amber company! Guests sipped on fresh strawberry lemonade and sangria as they helped themselves to a delicious spread that included chow fun, zesty quinoa salad, vegan avocado potato salad, queso, chili, crustless artichoke quiche, and more.

Wendy and her canine companion, Amber
Wendy and Amber, her canine companion, hosting a member potluck at their home

Wendy’s favorite part of the potluck was seeing old friends, like Sidney, and meeting new friends who are now potential exchange partners.

“I made lots of new connections at the potluck,” said Wendy. “I even got a card from one of the ladies thanking me for having everyone over,”

For additional event photos, check out our Facebook page.

A Family Caregiver’s Journey with Meet and Move

Cyndi Mariner is a long-time resident of Sunnyvale and a family caregiver. In this blog post, she shares her experience as a participant and Program Coordinator of the Meet and Move program for family caregivers, sponsored by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and El Camino Hospital.

In the spring of 2014, I was living with and caring for my brother, who suffered from heart problems, and my 84-year-old mother who had suffered from arthritis. She had just been released from the hospital and rehab after a serious case of pneumonia. I was an overwhelmed, stressed out family caregiver who was not taking care of herself. I happened to glance at a local paper, not something I usually do, and saw an ad for a program called Meet & Move. Little did I know, taking the step to attend the informational session would lead to big changes for my life. I joined the group and after just three months, I realized the difference the program was making in my life. I started taking care of myself by exercising more and making new connections. I started “breathing” again, allowing myself to better care for my loved ones. Continue reading

linkAges Advocates complete spring internship!

After a six-month internship period, our latest group of linkAges Advocates concluded their internship at the David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation (the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s innovation center) in June.

The Innovation Center welcomed these four linkAges Advocates, in January 2015 and they were selected for their passion and interest to support healthy aging in the community.

11402659_844707865613271_9175517589565978045_o

From left to right: Stefanie Kong, Elena Haight, Dominic Boccaccio (Advocates Program Coordinator), Margret Mendenhall and Stacey Urauchi

Though all four Advocates attended Santa Clara University, they had different reasons for wanting to join the linkAges team:

Stefanie Kong’s close relationship with her grandmother helped her realize the importance of social connections in promoting a high quality of life for older adults. She saw the internship as an opportunity for an “infusion of youth” into the lives of seniors, and vice versa.

Elena Haight understood the role of mental health in overall well-being, and wanted to explore a more holistic view of health outside of the clinic.

Margret Mendenhall wanted to play an active role in the expansion of resources for aging baby boomers, leveraging technology to bring families closer together.

As a public health major, Stacey Urauchi learned about the booming senior population and saw this as an opportune time to get involved as healthcare evolves and shifts.

At the start of their internship, they went through an intensive two-day training session. Training modules ranged from motivational interviewing, to program logistics, with in-depth preparation for situations around privacy, effective communication with seniors, and teaching technology. Through the course of the internship program they drew upon these skills to empower their work and inform their outreach strategies.

The Advocates spent a considerable amount of time at local community sites, including the Mountain View Senior Center and the Sunnyvale Senior Center, to provide one-on-one technology assistance to older adults.

11203654_826329947451063_523641989635882243_o

 

These experiences were incredibly rewarding to the Advocates because, as they pointed out, few college students have the opportunity to interact with seniors on a regular basis.

The Advocates also helped spread the word to patients and community about the linkAges TimeBank Program when visiting the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Mountain View and Palo Alto Centers. Through partnership with PAMF”s Community Health Resource Centers, they coordinated outreach for interested patients and staff.

Another important piece of the linkAges Advocates internship program is that interns are asked to develop a self-guided personal project. This cohort of Advocates decided to initiate outreach to the Santa Clara community, an area of expansion for the TimeBank with only a handful of existing members. They contacted student groups at Santa Clara University, faith-based groups, community leaders, and local healthcare providers. Their project concluded with a community event at The Forge Garden. Fifteen people attended the event and got their hands dirty while learning about sustainable gardening – and were able to learn more about the linkAges TimeBank too!

Thank you and well wishes to this group of linkAges Advocates and thank you for your service during your internship!

This group of Advocates made monumental impact for good, both on the internship program and the community. They helped older adults through home visits, technology assistance, and other TimeBank exchanges. They learned about health outside of the clinic during a monthly speaker series, and they had the opportunity to take a significant role in program deployment strategies. And, they did it all with passion, maturity, skill, and innovation. We’re going to miss them, but wish them the best on their continued career paths to make a difference in the health and well being of local communities.

 

linkAges TimeBank celebrates launch in City of Palo Alto

On June 18, approximately twenty-five linkAges TimeBank members and local residents came together at Bol Park to celebrate the launch of linkAges TimeBank in Palo Alto. In addition to a festive summer picnic, fun and games, guests enjoyed visits by stuffed donkey and city goodwill ambassador Palo Alto Perry, and the real Barron Park Donkeys, Pericles (Perry) and Niner.

generations

This event was a great opportunity for Palo Alto residents to meet current TimeBank members and learn more about the linkAges TimeBank, while enjoying the great weather and beautiful location.

Since its city launch in March, more than 75 people in Palo Alto have signed up for the TimeBank, either independently or through organization partners, such as Beth Am, Palo Alto YMCA, and the City of Palo Alto Utilities Department and Zero Waste Departments. Local TimeBank members shared their experiences with guests and made new social connections by playing a get-to-know you bingo game and posing for photos with our donkey friends.

We are planning launch parties for all of the new communities in which we deploy the TimeBank. It’s our way of welcoming new members and showing appreciation for the residents of the diverse cities which make up the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Be sure to check the linkAges TimeBank website, Facebook and Twitter pages for updates about launch parties in your area.

You can find more photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Linking Together for a Greener Tomorrow

One of the most rewarding aspects of timebanking is the opportunity to share your skills with others in your community. From recipe swapping to sharing gardening techniques, linkAges TimeBank members are constantly finding ways to learn from each other through their exchanges.

Now, there’s a new way to learn from your neighbors in Palo Alto. The City of Palo Alto has partnered with the linkAges TimeBank to recruit “Ambassadors” for home utility efficiency and zero waste practices. Trained Ambassadors will be matched up with Palo Alto residents interested in reducing waste and becoming more energy and water efficient. Palo Alto residents can join the linkAges TimeBank to receive energy efficiency and water efficiency services…for free!

recycling

The goal of the Ambassador Program is to help Palo Alto become a more eco-friendly city while creating intergenerational connections to build a strong social support network for our community – another way in which community can use the linkAges TimeBank to bring people together.

The City of Palo Alto Utilities and Zero Waste departments will provide Ambassadors with all the necessary materials and training. Ambassadors will be able to provide some or all of the following services listed below and earn TimeBank hours for doing it!

IMG_3774

Energy & Water Efficiency Services

  • In-home energy and water efficiency education
  • Installation of:
    • Weather-stripping
    • LED light bulbs
    • Hose nozzles
    • Water-efficient faucet aerators
    • Low-flow shower heads
  • Toilet leak detection

Zero Waste Services

  • In-home Zero Waste education on topics like recycling, reusing, household hazardous waste, and Palo Alto’s new Food Scraps Composting Collection Program
  • Removes names from junk mail lists
  • Helps residents prepare for their Clean Up Day appointment
  • Assists with creation of less-toxic household cleaners
  • Assists with food waste reduction

Ambassador trainings are ongoing, and you do not have to be a Palo Alto resident to become an Ambassador. If you’re interested in becoming an Ambassador, please email timebank@linkages.org to learn more and register for an upcoming training.

If you are not yet a member, get started by signing up for a linkAges TimeBank orientation session at timebank.linkages.org.