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.

Why I’m a linkAges Advocate

Stefanie Kong is a premedical student working under the Stanford School of Medicine’s Center of Excellence in Diversity in Medical Education’s LEAP program to improve the health of local communities. In this blog post, she shares why she works as an intern with our linkAges Advocates Program.

linkAges Advocates
linkAges Advocates (Left to Right: Margret, Elena, Stacey, Stefanie)

Being a college student and caregiver to my grandmother, I recently became aware of how important social connections are in providing a high quality of life for seniors. These social determinants of health are hard to reconcile with the fact that our society often tends to push those who are not “young and able” to the margins.

For example, one of my dearest neighbors is now living in a senior home. Aside from his wife, some neighbors, and the nursing staff — the only company he gets is the television and a book. I have seen so many seniors like him who, despite their talents and rich life experiences, lose their sense of self-worth and contribution to the community as they age.

I am currently working as a linkAges intern and actively promoting linkAges TimeBank throughout the South Bay. This is because I believe that seniors and family caregivers are a valuable asset to their community and should still be connected to others in meaningful ways. All of us can benefit from connecting with the rich talents and experiences of seniors; I personally learned that from my time with my grandmother.

There needs to be an “infusion of youth” colliding with a “diversity of seniors” to create a culture of inclusion. It will help reinforce a positive mentality of youthfulness, a sense of community, and promote well-being for our older community members. In return, younger members will obtain role models of older adults and also be more conscious of the realities and journey of aging. This contact will hopefully prepare them to be positive about their own future experiences with aging.

I believe that by rebuilding community connections and being there for each other, we will be able to open up worlds for all of us and learn the important lesson of getting through life every step of the way, together.