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 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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

linkAges TimeBank hosts 2nd Annual Tech Day for Older Adults

Over 80 older adults from Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View and other surrounding communities improved their ability to use their personal technology devices to connect to their friends and loved ones at the 2nd Annual Technology Day for Older Adults, held at the Los Altos Library on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

a good crowdTwenty-five volunteers from Stanford, linkAges TimeBank, Bullis Charter High and Egan Junior High came from as far as Oakland and San Jose to provide individualized, one-hour sessions with older adult attendees. Topics included how to better use a computer, smartphone, tablet and social networking applications like Facebook or Skype.

Adults and volunteer pairs filled the Los Altos Library, spilling out into the lobby, Children’s Room and Teen Study Room. Judith Gregg, community librarian for the Santa Clara County Library District, beamed about the record turn out. “Libraries aren’t meant to be quiet, silent places anymore. We are thrilled to facilitate such learning exchanges across the generations.”

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Dilip Kumar, an 8th Grader at Egan Junior High School was enthusiastic about volunteering. “I had a lot of fun volunteering for the tech day. I really enjoyed working with the older adult and teaching her how to download apps to her iPad.  It was also nice chatting with her about what it was like to grow up here in Los Altos.”

The older adults who attended shared how appreciative they were for the “learning opportunity” and one even mentioned how glad to not be “made fun of or ridiculed” for not knowing how to use their device. In general, attendees of all ages benefitted from the day!

IMG_3513We’d also like to give a special thank you to the Los Altos Library and Los Altos Library Endowment for use of the space and laptops during the event.

Those who want to continue giving and receiving technology help are encouraged to become members of the neighborhood service exchange network,  linkAges TimeBank. For additional photos from the event, visit our Facebook Page.

Spring into Summer Cooking Cafe Event

“You cook a good meal, and it’s fine. You eat by yourself, and it’s fine. But if you share it with somebody, it’s another feeling altogether.” – Clea Holdridge, TimeBank Member

Cooking-related offers and requests remain highly popular on the linkAges TimeBank, so we wanted to host an event that brought people together around a mutual love for food. Nearly 100 TimeBank members and community members gathered at the Historic Adobe Building in Mountain View on April 28 for our “Spring into Summer” Cooking Cafe. The event was a wonderful opportunity for people to connect with their neighbors and meet fellow foodies as they learned and sampled summer-inspired recipes from seven TimeBank chefs.

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TimeBank chefs were invited to share a beloved recipe that had meaning to them, either because it was a family recipe or a dish they had learned from their travels abroad.There were two rounds of cooking demos and each demo was 30 minutes long.

Cooking demos featured the following homemade recipes:

Greek Stuffed Grape Leaves (also called dolmades or dolmathakia) from Chef Pat Blumenthal

Pat, an avid traveler and foodie, has visited Greece many times and even offers Greek travel advice on the TimeBank!

Strawberry-Banana Kefir Smoothies from Chef Judith Kondo

Guests enjoyed kefir, a fermented drink with many health benefits, in the form a healthy strawberry-banana smoothie. In addition to her TimeBank offer on how to make kefir smoothies, Judith also offers help on urban beekeeping.

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Adzuki-Beet and Lentil-Pecan Pates from Chef Patty Evans

Patty was inspired to share these pate recipes by her recent “Holistic Holiday at Sea” cruise, which was a weeklong trip that consisted of talks and cooking classes led by world experts on whole foods plant-based diets.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce Dressing from Chef Stacey Urauchi

Stacey, another linkAges advocate, shares this refreshing salad that she learned from her mom. The peanut sauce dressing adds a unique flavor thanks to its secret ingredient: ramen seasoning!

IMG_3240Shanghai Style Wonton Soup from Chef Stefanie Kong

Stefanie is one of our linkAges advocates and enlisted the help of her mom for the demo. In fact, her mother was the one who taught her this wonton soup recipe. Fun fact: To prep for her demonstration, Stefanie and her mom made nearly 400 wontons!

Sizzlin’ Fajitas with homemade Honduran Salsa from Chef Libby Boatwright

Libby learned how to make Honduran salsa from villages in Bella Vista, Honduras where she served as a missionary. She describes her salsa as healthy and full of Vitamin C and veggies. Sabroso y rico, indeed!

Cajun Deviled Eggs from Chef Erica Gibson

Growing up in Louisiana, Erica has developed a deep appreciation for cajun and creole dishes. She was more than happy to share this family recipe with guests, who enjoyed listening to her stories as she demonstrated.

After the demos ended, attendees helped themselves to an assortment of dishes from the community buffet table. TimeBank chefs made extra portions to share so that all attendees – even those who were unable to attend their demo – could try their dish.

cheers

In the true spirit of timebanking, guests were given mini cookbooks (featuring all the recipes from the event) to take home, so they could practice the skills they learned and try these recipes on their own!

For more Cooking Cafe photos, please check out our Facebook page.

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.