linkAges Advocates complete spring internship!

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.


March TimeBank Tales: Prepare for garden for spring!

I love spring! Not just because I don’t have to bring a jacket to work, or because the days get longer, but because I cannot wait for the return of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Growing up, my mom would harvest foot long zucchinis and we would eat zucchini every single night for weeks.  I couldn’t get enough of it!

We are lucky to live in California where we can harvest fruits and veggies almost year round and gardens do not have to live under blankets of snow and frost for months.  Personal gardens have become more popular in the past couple years with more homes creating raised-beds as an alternative to planting in yard.  Even businesses and organizations started growing their own crops as a way to encourage employees and participants to come together and work on a project.

The benefits of gardening are numerous.  You get to be outside, soaking up vitamin D (but remember to wear sunscreen and a hat in during peak sun hours), and did you know gardening is exercise and helps reduce stress?!  The vegetables you grow are rich in nutrients and fibers which help prevent against common chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.  And it’s good for the environment too! Personal gardens reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste!

So, inspired by the coming of spring, we are hosting a gardening demonstration for March’s TimeBank Tales event!

March TB Tales

We have invited Raffaella Cerruti from Valley Verde to each us how to create our own gardens.  Valley Verde is a nonprofit organization in Santa Clara County that provides low income families with all the tools and materials to start their own organic vegetable garden, plus gardening and nutrition classes.  They have planted 391 total gardens since their inception in 2011.  Rafaella joined Valley Verde after moving to the Bay Area from her native Italy.  She has her Masters in Agronomy and a PhD in Agro-Food Economics.  We are so lucky to have an expert to show us how it’s done!

I am counting the days until TimeBank Tale on March 11th.  Currently we are at 14 days, 4 hours, and 52 minutes.  I cannot wait to learn the steps to creating my own personal veggie garden and eating the delicious produce.  Maybe even I’ll grow a zucchini longer than my mother’s! You never know!

TimeBank Tales will be held at the El Camino YMCA at 2400 Grant Rd in Mountain View from 4:30-6 pm.  To RSVP, please visit this link. For more information about the linkAges TimeBank, please visit or call 650-691-8784.  I hope you are as excited as I am to start your garden!  Feel free to bring friends and family, and I look forward to seeing you at the garden!

– Shaina, Program Intern