Purpose Pals: Online program creates intergenerational friendships amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) – A new program that launched in Hawaii is aiming to build intergenerational friendships at the click of a mouse.

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Purpose Pals allows young adults and kupuna to lean on each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We looked for ways to promote social connectedness and in particular, create a more age friendly community by fostering friendships across generations,” said Christy Nishita, a Purpose Pals organizer.

The online program connects 18 to 24 year old Hawaii residents with older adults online. To register, just log onto the Purpose Pals website and find a match.

“After signing up and answering a few questions on our website about yourself, you’ll be matched with a pal living in Hawaii,” Nishita said.

The program is a partnership between the city’s Age Friendly Honolulu initiative, Blue Zones Hawaii, Afterschool Alliance, AARP and the YMCA. So far, there are 100 pals participating.

“Our pals just talk story and others have said that they’ve shared tips for well being during the pandemic. Some have even provided career mentoring during these phone calls,” said Nishita.

For many pals, the program has become the perfect remedy to get through these rough times.

“I have been in my house for the last 10 months and I live alone except for a cat,” said Robin Bush, a Purpose Pals participant. “I would talk to a telemarketer at this point. It really did help to make a very close, very positive and very warm virtual connection.”

“It was so nice to be able to talk without a mask and socially distance so you could see each other’s faces and hear the laughter,” said Trish Lowry, a Purpose Pals participant.

Purpose Pals also hosts virtual monthly events for kupuna and young adults.

“We call these events Pear Up and the next one will be held on Sunday, January 17, via Zoom. It’s an opportunity for younger and older adults to meet in a larger group setting and talk story,” Nishita said.

Purpose Pals is free to join. To get involved with the program, click here.

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