We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Peterson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
As a caregiver in a senior care home I observed the unique challenges that the residents were facing that care homes really were unable to tap into for their well-being of even recognized.
What I witnessed was the lack of human to human connection, recognizing that it was a serious issue even before the Covid-19 Pandemic. I choose to act on what I was seeing by choosing to personally getting fully invested in the cause. I was also aware that our high school youth, regardless of how may followers they had on social media or how many peers they associated, with are facing the same challenges as senior adults. With wanting to go ALL in, I developed the non-profit organization, Seniors4Seniors which engages in the reduction of isolation, loneliness, depression and suicide in these two vulnerable and important groups in our communities and society.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
We want people to know about our service so that as they interact with youth or older adults that they can help us make connections to those people and get them involved in our program. The time requirement is about an hour each week. We just need a name and a phone number. We are also very careful with people’s private information.
At some point soon we will need donations from people and organizations who believe in our mission and want to help our youth and older adults overcome feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression. More time and expense will be required as participation in Seniors4Seniors increases. Currently all financial support is being provided by Eric and his family.
Our mission is on helping our youth and older adults have better lifes through serving each other.
Our program is primary about giving and accepting service from another person. We do this as we pair the our youth
with a senior adult that has career background that he/she has interest in and or in which they share common interests in.
Doing so not only forms a special bond but it breaks to isolation that one has been experiencing, it eliminates ageism,
and any other barrier between the two age groups. In return transforms and strengthens communities, and nations or any divide that was presently there before among many other positive outcomes derived.
As we do not focus on the short time lived outcomes but lifetime and positive meaningful impacts on the individual and individuals that are involved in our program.
As were a non-profit our program is offered with not cost to all who are associated in our program. All we as from care providers is that we can
the names and numbers of those who are interested and we can take it from there.
As were were approved as a non-profit just prior to the Covid outbreak we had our focus on
face to face interactions in this meaningful service. From the Covid it opened our eyes that not only can
we offer our services virtually and or over the phone so can are range who we can provide these services to
as are only real challenge would be language. Since the beginning we have not had ANY out source of income to
implement our program but although we are welcome any financial assistance we have been keen in getting into
eyes and ears who can benefit as it has been very difficult due to the lock downs and restrictions that have been taken place.
We have learned that organizations are very cautious to begin something that is new to them, not just something new for their facility but also a new idea or solution to a problem. We have found it interesting that literally everyone we tell about the mission of Seniors4Seniors thinks it is great. However getting the decision makers to offer Seniors4Seniors to their residents has met with resistance. Even though there is no cost to the participants in the program, including the senior residential communities, getting the program implemented is challenging. COVID-19 requirements on the facilities is absolutely a contributing factor. However, as we communicate, all we need is the name and contact number of an interested senior resident and we will take if from there.
Within three months of being approved as a 501 (c)(3) organization COVID-19 hit. Up until that point our focus was enabling face to face connections between the youth and the older adults. As we all saw, senior residential communities were required to severely limit access to their facilities, eliminating the face to face interactions. Yet, never in our lives, were interpersonal connections more important. This forced us to realign our thinking and realizing that not only were virtual and telephone connections another option but that these types of connections were less limiting. With telephone and virtual meetings we can literally offer our services to anywhere in the world, with the only limitation being languages and the challenges associated with different time zones. This has led to our connections expanding across North America and into other countries around the world including Great Britain, India and China
We have had a little more success getting high school age youth participating. In fact we have some youth volunteers we need older adult volunteers to match up with. Besides the service itself, some high school students need community service hours to graduate and Seniors4Seniors provides a great way to meet those requirements.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wanted to shout out to my amazing family and especially my very supportive wife and daughter with have made a lot of this sacrifices in my and the program’s behalf. I also want to recognize my amazing board members who have been there all along showing unwavering support.
I also wanted to shout out to my Senior Vice President, Professor Jason Powell, that found me in the early stages of my rollout and from there has been with me in interviews and continued support which led him to his role as Senior Vice President. From there, especially now with the Covid-19, his valuable insights that has given our program not only further insight but legitimacy. He has sacrificed a lot of his time as a board member assisting me with no thought of ANY monetary reward. With his support we have gone locally, to national and international in a very short time. THANK YOU
Other: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1549009/8344769 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3e4vQRRYdg https://yourhub.denverpost.com/blog/2020/08/conversations-with-remarkable-people-meet-eric-peterson-director-of-seniors4seniors-non-profit/266477/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarazeffgeber/2020/06/26/intergenerational-relationships-benefit-youngsters-and-elders/?sh=307116e22e7e https://youtu.be/q5FhFhwL5Ec