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.

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.


Connecting Across the Game Board – an Interview with a Successful TimeBank Member

We had the pleasure of speaking with Ruby Heng, who has had great success using the linkAges TimeBank to create a network of friends who enjoy playing board games. She particularly loves board games that are sometimes referred to as Euro-style or designer games and are a combination of random luck and skill, which gives everyone a fighting chance. Ruby calls them “Brain Exercise.”

Ruby’s game collection


Crossing the US on “Ticket to Ride”

To find others who share her passion for board games, Ruby placed her “BrainExercise” offer on the linkAges TimeBank website. Ruby’s offer was accepted by fellow TimeBank members Nikita and Mary, who were interested in learning and playing the games. Neither had played these types of games before, so it was a great learning experience for all. The trio meets at the Sunnyvale Senior Center and local cafés. The simple requirements for a fun session are a variety of games, a large table and willing participants.  Ruby has also offered a service exchange for playing games with linkAges TimeBank Community Outreach Coordinator, Vivian Nguyen, and Program Intern, Dominic Boccaccio. Continue reading