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.
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.
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.