Fall Harvest Party

In the latest in a series of TimeBank Tales events, we recently hosted a Fall Harvest Party at the Red Morton Community Center in Redwood City. With the generous donation of this space from Redwood City Parks and Recreation, this event was intended not to only bring TimeBankers together, but also to celebrate our launch of the TimeBank service exchange program in the Redwood City community earlier this year. linkAges members, staff and volunteers all came together to enjoy an afternoon of seasonal food, crafts, games and fun in a festive atmosphere.

finger paintingTimeBank members Kent, Pauline and Wendy volunteered their time to demonstrate some of the arts and crafts they commonly offer as service exchanges to other members through linkAges.

Kent led participants through finger-painting and bottle art craft activities. It was quite striking to see the vibrant multicolored work people were able to create with their fingers– no brushes required! They say that there is a kid in all of us and this was apparent as members joyfully explored the tactile qualities of paint.

wendy pie demoWendy enthralled everyone with pie-making demonstrations, working the pastry expertly into perfectly- formed crusts and adding delicious fillings. Members absorbed every instruction, presumably anticipating opportunities to put the techniques to use in the upcoming holiday season.


flower demoPauline, a retired floral designer of 30 years, captivated the attention of several would-be-florists by assembling easy-to-make flower arrangements in mugs. You could see the delight as members created professional-looking arrangements quickly and with limited materials.

Under the watchful eye of game master and linkAges staffer, Dominic, guests tried their hand at ring-tossing and pumpkin-bowling. Under Dominic’s tutelage, members honed their hand-to-eye coordination to Olympic standards. Well, to TimeBank Tales standards at least.

Members contributed a lavish array of seasonal treats that included turkey, pies, salads, dips, cakes, vegetarian options and more. Few times of the year can match the fall for eating well, and eat well we did! There is also something to be said about eating a meal together. One of the earliest linkAges members, Clea Holdridge, captured this perfectly in our What Members are Saying video, “You cook a good meal and it’s fine…but if you share with it with somebody, it’s another feeling altogether.”

Want to get a glimpse of the fun? See the short Fall Harvest Party video here.

The TimeBank Tales program was created to promote community spirit, and to bring members together to enjoy activities and share stories about service exchanges and life in general. We try to select a variety of events that appeal to the program’s diverse membership. In the past we have featured Yoga, Bhangra Dance, Tai Chi and Pilates to name a few. For a list of upcoming linkAges events, please visit our website at https://timebank.linkages.org.

A New Look for linkAges TimeBank

We are excited to announce the release of a newly redesigned website for the linkAges TimeBank.

You will notice the simple design, easier to navigate menus, and more member options to personalize your linkAges experience. At just a glance, you can now view new members, events and groups, and hours in your account. The site is also available on multiple devices, giving you an improved user experience whether you access it from your personal computer, tablet or smartphone.

1. Welcome_New Homepage

Three things you’ll love about the new linkAges TimeBank website:

  • Registration – New members can register using a seamless registration process with shorter steps and just a few clicks.
  • Profile Builder – A step-by-step profile builder allows you to easily add information about yourself to share with other members and start making new member connections.
  • Groups – Connect with other members around interests, hobbies and needs through public and private groups, and support local non-profit organizations in your city.

There are many more features to this new rollout. We invite you to take some time and check out the new site.

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.


TimeBank Tales: Let the Games Begin!

Members during an intense game of Scotland Yard.
Members during an intense game of Scotland Yard.

For our March TimeBank Tales event, we recently hosted a board game night at Sunnyvale Art Gallery & Cafe.

TimeBank members engaged in some friendly competition as they faced off against each other in various board games. From timeless classics like Clue, Scrabble and Racko to more obscure favorites like Hey, That’s My Fish! and Scotland Yard, there was something for everyone.

pick a card

Throughout the evening, members formed connections as they bonded over their favorite board games and taught each other how to play. It was a friendly and positive group, encouraging each other along the way.

The inspiration for this particular TimeBank Tales came from TimeBank member Ruby, who has shared her love of “Euro-Style” board games with others in her community through the linkAges TimeBank.

Games have become a popular exchange with many of the linkAges TimeBank members. For Ruby and others, these board games serve as “brain exercise.”  It’s a great way to develop new connections, relieve some stress, stimulate the brain, and engage with other members who are looking for some company – all great for your health and well being!

For more event photos, check out our Facebook page.

A great ending to a good game.

TimeBank Tales reflect the monthly events where TimeBank members and guests from the community come together to share stories, laugh, learn and have fun. With the generous help of community partners, these diverse events help promote neighborly connections and shared interests.



Dog Owners and Furry Friends Make New Connections

Dogs can help you make new friends. That was the idea behind “Pups in the Park,” the most recent linkAges TimeBank event where dog owners brought their four-legged companions to Mitchell Park in Palo Alto and dog enthusiasts came out to share the fun. Doggie treats were in abundance and there were many wagging tails.

“Pups in the Park” on Feb. 24 was one of the monthly TimeBank Tales events that bring together TimeBank members and guests from the community to share stories, laugh, learn and have fun. With the generous help of community partners, these diverse events help promote neighborly connections and shared interests. Previous TimeBank Tales events have included yoga, Tai Chi and South Asian Bhangra dance classes, a Thanksgiving feast and a caroling event.

group pups

A variety of dog breeds and sizes – spaniels, dachshunds, Chihuahuas and many mixes, large and small – instantly bonded with one another. The human participants enjoyed the pleasure of the animal-human interaction and getting to know each other.

“Dogs are great conversation catalysts and wonderful community-builders,” says John Williams, who attended the event and is a Marketing and Communications specialist at PAMF’s David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation that created the linkAges TimeBank program. “They are intermediaries to good conversation and provide a common interest for people who might not otherwise connect.”

dom pup

The dogs romped, played and barked with delight. The humans smiled. After enjoying some light refreshments, the group headed over to the doggy exercise area of the park where the dogs were unleashed – literally. The bonding process continued, with new dogs to meet and greet. Many more barks of delight.

Find more “Pups in the Park” event photos on the linkAges TimeBank 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.