South San Francisco, CA February 5, 2016 Submitted by Ofelia Albrecht
The Senior Peer Counseling program is offered by Peninsula Family Service in San Mateo County to adults age 55 and older. Volunteer counselors are trained older adults who share similar experience, values, wisdom and culture. Graduates have reported that they have learned a lot for themselves that they are able to relate not only to clients, but to their families and friends as well.
Why volunteer? If you have an aging parent, relative, or friend and you wish to learn the facts and challenges of aging and the many things that occur in this process – what to do or how you can help – you might consider becoming a senior peer counselor. You can make a positive difference in the lives of others. A special bond is developed when volunteers can speak their native tongue – by sharing their values, wisdom and culture.
Aging isn’t always pleasant and easy. And these “kababayans” (fellow countrymen) face loneliness due to loss of loved ones or loss of health. Some have family problems or are experiencing culture shock, especially those still unfamiliar with life and goings-on in the new country. Besides offering a supportive ear these volunteers offer help to those needing assistance with regards to the many resources available to them in the San Mateo County, such as food, work, health, legal assistance, housing – to name a few. Still others simply are unable to share with family members their worries in life, both in the U.S. and in the Philippines.
Listening is the one important and simplest aspect of the counseling program. Volunteers are not licensed, like those that have degrees and experience in social work. We are allies and guides to those who need emotional support and guidance. With our peer counseling, those people who are hesitant to allow someone to “listen” to them are now more comfortable meeting with a peer counselor who shares a similar background and experiences. Many Filipinos are still afraid to come out and seek support, although it is free and confidential. Confidentiality means that all things discussed are only between the clients and counselors.
Training starts May 3, 2016 through June 8, 2016 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at the offices of Peninsula Family Service at 24 Second Avenue, San Mateo. Topics include: Aging in America, Effective Communication, Mental Health Challenges, Working with Diverse Cultures, Understanding Loss , Ways to Work with Clients, among other related issues. Counseling is offered in English, Filipino , Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, and LGBTQ community. For additional information: Call Ofie Carpio Albrecht at Peninsula Family Service – 650.403.4300 ext 4363 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.