A new way to engage with your community

Here at linkAges, we’re always looking for opportunities to create meaningful connections. From meeting a group of members at a local coffee shop to play a new board game or learning how to make kefir smoothies at one of our TimeBank Tales, linkAges members can look forward to new ways to engage with their community.

Starting this month, we are excited to announce the launch of our new yearlong engagement campaign!

What you can look forward to:

  • Quarterly themes that will be announced in our monthly newsletter. We hope these broad themes will inspire linkAges members to try new things, meet new people and, of course, give back to our community through acts of kindness.
  • Monthly sub-topics that correspond to that quarter’s themes. For example, during the quarterly theme of “Meet Someone New,” we’ll be encouraging linkAges members and partners to do cross-city exchanges and cross-cultural events in order to build intergenerational connections.
  • Exchanging with new and old members around popular linkAges topics like technology, gardening and pet care.
  • One large community event per quarter hosted by your linkAges team.

How you can get involved:

  • Post Offers or Requests on the linkAges website related to the theme.
  • Attend an event or workshop hosted by a linkAges member or partner related to the theme.
  • Share your linkAges stories here on our blog.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of next month’s subtopic and activities!

 

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linkAges Partner Spotlight: Town of Los Altos Hills

For the second year in a row, we partnered with the Town of Los Altos Hills, Parks and Recreation Department to put on a successful Technology for Seniors event!

You’ve checked out the event photos on Facebook – now , learn more about our partnership from Sarah Gualtieri, Community Services Supervisor.


Tell us a little bit about your organization.

We are dedicated to serving the Town of Los Altos Hills.

How did you first learn about linkAges?

I learned about linkAges through the Los Altos/Los Altos Hills Senior Commission. We partnered a few years ago for a joint venture for Technology Training for Seniors. This event was successful and I am proud to say that the program continues to run today.

How have linkAges members connected with your organization/department?

I work directly with the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Community Outreach Department. They have been extremely professional and reliable. I always look forward to partnering with their team.

What in one thing you love about working in your community?

The community I serve is so passionate. Every day I look forward to making a positive impact through community events and programming.

tech for seniors blog pic
Emily, a Los Altos Hills Youth Volunteer, helps a community member learn how to use her tablet.

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.

 

Meet Erica Gibson: Our New Medical Ethnographer

Erica Gibson, Ph.D., recently joined the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Innovation Center team as the new medical ethnographer. In this blog post, she explains what a medical ethnographer does and her new role at the Innovation Center – and with the linkAges Timebank community.

Erica GibsonHi, I’m Erica. I recently moved to California from Florida and I am enjoying exploring my new community while working with a great team as the Innovation Center’s new medical ethnographer.  I received a Ph.D. in medical anthropology from the University of Alabama in 2007 and I have been working as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies for the past six years.  My previous ethnographic experience includes cross-cultural studies on pregnancy and birth in the Southern U.S., Mexico, and Italy, and clinical and chronic pain studies in communities in Florida.

Ethnography is an on-the-ground method of learning about the social and cultural life of communities and individuals, with an emphasis on the perspectives of the people.  Medical ethnography allows us to understand behaviors that impact people’s wellness. This helps the team to design innovations that can improve health at both the individual and community levels. The Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation at Palo Alto Medical Foundation is dedicated to working in-depth with the local community, and many of our team members already do this.  As the medical ethnographer, I am working with community members to better understand the experiences of older adults and caregivers in the challenges that they face affecting their health and well-being.

Through participant observation, I can explore what community members are experiencing on an individual level, both as someone performing an activity, as well as through watching and learning.  For instance, in order to meet community members and learn first-hand about linkAges, I became a member of the linkAges TimeBank.  Upon learning that time banks often receive more offers than requests, I decided to post a request, rather than an offer for my first exchange.  The idea behind this is that people don’t want to ask for help; however they are very happy to offer help. In order to engage with the other TimeBank members quickly, I asked for help with a task that was intimidating to me but could probably be easily accomplished by someone in the TimeBank with the right skill set.  I requested help in sprucing up my cubicle. Two TimeBank members responded within days and I recently completed my first exchange with TimeBank member Judy Ott!  Judy helped me create an inviting work space by sharing her design expertise.  This exchange resulted in a positive change to my work space, but it also allowed me to understand exactly what is involved in a TimeBank experience from a participant’s perspective.  Also I had a great time just chatting with Judy and learning about fun things to do in and around the Bay Area!

Part of my time will be spent out in the community, getting to know TimeBank members and learning about how we can better serve them through linkAges programs.  You may see me at local events such as TimeBank Tales, orientation sessions, Meet and Move walks, or posting offers and requests on the TimeBank website.  Please feel free to come up and say hello, especially if you are interested in helping our team by speaking with me about your experiences with linkAges programs. You can also send me an email at gibsone@pamf.org if you would like to know more about what I do and how you can help make linkAges better for everyone.

TimeBank Tales: Summer Highlights

By Vivian Nguyen, Community Outreach Coordinator

Summer 2014 was a busy season for the linkAges TimeBank – we launched our Advocates program for college interns, redesigned the TimeBank website, and grew to over 250 members ranging in age from 18 to 92. Together, we’ve completed almost 600 hours of exchanges!

Many TimeBank members meet fellow members (and potential Exchange partners) during “TimeBank Tales,” a free community event that we host every month. TimeBank Tales is a great opportunity to learn new skills, connect with others in the TimeBank community and, most importantly, have fun!

In case you missed any events, here’s a recap of our summer TimeBank Tales:

June 2014: Breathe in, breathe out

IMG_1750We started off the season with a yoga and meditation session led by William Cristobal, one of our business partners and founder of Yoga Belly. Members learned various poses and breathing techniques designed to enhance mental clarity and improve spine and muscle alignment.

July 2014: Learn Bhangra!

In July, our very own TimeBank member, Nikita Maheshwari, led a workshop on Indian folk dance, tbtales-bhangra-facing-dancersalso known as “Bhangra.” Members got to move and shake to basic dance moves seen in popular Indian films. Nikita also offers private Bhangra lessons as a service listing on the TimeBank!

August 2014: TimeBank Trivia Night

2014-04-08 17.20.56 HDRThings got heated during our TimeBank Trivia Night as 4 teams tested their general knowledge and battled it out for prizes. The first, second and third place teams were only separated by a point at the end of 8 rounds! The winners took home gift cards from our newest business partner, Sunnyvale Art Gallery & Café.

 

Partner Highlight: El Camino Hospital and the “Meet and Move” program

By Christina Araiza, Community Outreach Manager.

Meet and Move - blogCommunity partnerships are invaluable to the linkAges TimeBank. It is through our partners that we can reach more people, spread our mission, and support our neighbors who need it most. El Camino Hospital is one partner that shares in our goal to support the health and well-being of the local community. Last year, El Camino Hospital, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and linkAges decided to look at innovative ways to support family caregivers and their loved ones. As a result, we launched Meet and Move, a “walk and talk” program for family caregivers.

First, we ran a 3-month pilot to determine how the program would work. Over thirty family caregivers joined from Meet and Move group walk - blogaround Silicon Valley. They walked together, shared their caregiving experiences and focused on prioritizing their own health so that they could continue taking care of their loved ones. Many saw an increase in their physical activity and long-lasting friendships were formed.

Meet and Move flyer - blogWith this success, we decided to continue partnering and officially launch Meet and Move in October. Participants will join the linkAges TimeBank and connect with each other in a private “Meet and Move” group. Through the TimeBank, Meet and Move participants can schedule walks and group events, chat with each other, help each other out, and share resources.

Thank you El Camino Hospital for your continuous support as a partner!

If you would like more information about Meet and Move, or would like to sign-up for the fall, please contact us at linkagestimebank@gmail.com.

 

Five Exchanges in Five Days

By Autumn Vandiver

Mondayautumn-exchnage

I went to Janak’s home. Her dog Dudley wasn’t so sure of me, so he crawled under the sofa and watched me from there. Janak and I sat in her living room, the cool afternoon breeze blowing the curtains, and we chatted about psychology, her life in India, books, her sister, my job as a preschool teacher, loneliness, Harvard University, cooking, my sister, farmer’s markets, our children, and coffee. It was late in the afternoon, so I had to decline her offer of a cup of coffee of my own. We laughed and shared peaceful moments together.

I left and thought of sitting at my grandmother’s feet, listening to her tell stories about growing up in Hawaii and eating mangos with her brother under the mango tree. My heart was full and I sent love to my beloved grandma, wherever she may be.

Tuesdaytb-tales-bhangra-autumn

I went to learn Bhangra dance from Nikita. Just before I left for the class, I received an email that my son’s best friend would be moving to London in a month’s time. I was devastated and thought about not going to dance class after all. Then I wondered, what else will I do with my heartache? Perhaps dancing is just the thing right now. So I picked up my sad feet and I went. I danced with a heavy heart, but I danced. I connected with my body through movement, and I felt the sadness moving through me. I even felt myself smile and heard myself laugh. I let the music and other dancers inspire me. I left feeling tired but strong, and prepared to hold the space for my son’s sadness when it arises.

Wednesdayautumn-garden

Louella came to provide my garden with some much needed TLC. She was kind and patient with my slow-to-warm up dog. We sat on my patio, chatting and watering and repotting. We laughed over mutually agreed upon absurdities, like getting annoyed when people have more than ten items in the ten item or less lane, wanting to get better at a new skill without practicing, and rushing the tortilla making process. After an hour and a half or so, Louella left me with a gardening to-do list and we hugged good-bye and agreed that we should set up another exchange soon. Then I spent some time lounging in my beautiful rejuvenated garden reading and soaking up the sunshine.

Thursdayautumn-smoothie

Christina and I made smoothies this evening. First we made a tropical green one with kale, pineapple, mango, banana, orange juice, coconut water, and spirulina. Then we sampled a berry smoothie with spinach and parsley, orange juice, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and chia seeds. We both liked the tropical one best. We talked about Arizona, making friends, books, introversion and extroversion, and vegan food. I found Christina’s energy and enthusiasm infectious. After she left with a to-go smoothie of her own, I couldn’t help but notice that I was all smiles for the rest of the evening.

Fridayautumn-cafe

Well, wouldn’t you know it? My last exchange of the week fell through. We neglected to exchange phone numbers and switched our meeting location a few days prior to our getting together at a local coffee shop. My best guess is that we were both sitting at different coffee shops wondering where the other person was.

And such is the way of it.

Fortunately, I had brought my book with me. I had pen and paper in hand. The hour was not at all lost. Rather, Friday’s scheduling snafu became a surprise gift of solitude that I gave myself. I sat upstairs at Red Rock café, eating a delicious apricot oat bar, and watched the passersby on the street below. I sipped on my tea and relished the unexpected gift of time to enjoy my own company and spending some time reading and writing in my notebook.

As I reflect back on the week, it feels rich and simple and full. I talked, I listened, I danced, I gardened, I created, I nourished, and I sat. Each day I carved out time to be with another human being, sharing and connecting. Each day was a different, new adventure and I only needed to show up and be open.

I consider the inquiries of others who are attempting to understand timebanking and how it might fit into their lives. Their questions usually amount to variations of How could I possibly fit it in?” Where would I find the time? Isn’t it hard? It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes, the likes of which I have hanging up on my bathroom mirror: “It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be worth it.”

Timebanking, particularly the way that I have engaged with it this past week, has required my attention, my energy, and my patience. And of course, my time. In return, the connections made during my exchanges have renewed my spirit, increased my energy, and given me a sense of being valued in the world, while I valued those around me.

As I complete my week of five exchanges in five days, I am filled with gratitude for the experiences I’ve had and joyful anticipation for the ones to come.