Meet Bernie & His Papa Pal Marco

Bernie, a retired construction worker, looks forward to his weekly coffee and Spanish rock listening sessions with Marco, a local college student.

Papa member Bernie is a retired construction worker who spent his career building houses in San Diego, CA. While Bernie lives with his wife, he still feels isolated, seeing and talking to only his doctor, who comes every few weeks. After Papa’s services were recommended to Bernie by his health plan, he met a true friend in Papa Pal Marco. 

Marco, a college student at a university in San Diego, describes himself as an “old soul” and said he and Bernie quickly bonded over a shared love of Spanish rock music. He said, “I would mention an old classic rock song, and Bernie would remember where he was in his life when he listened to the song for the first time. From then on, whenever I came for my weekly visits, we would listen to rock music in Spanish.” 

During their weekly visits, Bernie and Marco go for coffee, grocery shop, and chat in Spanish about Bernie’s life experience and overall just connect as friends would. Bernie describes his relationship with Marco, “Marco is very friendly. He helps me a lot with things I couldn't do before. Even filling out papers.” 

“What I love most about our relationship,” Bernie shared, “is we both feel comfortable expressing ourselves freely. We talk about everything—family, current affairs, his life, and we joke around a lot. I love his charisma. Marco is known everywhere we go; he’s so friendly! I love to watch it unfold. I love to be around his energy. It feels more like a friendship than a job. I always want to check in on him, make sure he is doing okay. I am happy I can help him have those experiences.” As Bernie confirmed, “Marco coming makes me happy, and I feel good!”