Meet David: Striving to Be a Part of Something Bigger

Papa Pal David loves spending time driving older adults to appointments while listening to their stories.

Papa Pal David.

Meet David.

David enjoys driving, so after moving to Portland, Oregon from Texas, he signed up to be an Uber driver. While driving, he found that his favorite rides were the ones where he got to chat with people, specifically older adults. After losing his own grandparents, David felt a void and found himself seeking out a way to spend time with the older generation. Then, he heard about Papa.

David realized that Papa was a great way to combine his favorite things: He loves driving. He loves being around older people. As a Papa Pal, David is able to do both! He often chooses visits where he can drive people to appointments or to pick up a prescription, and while he drives, he chats with them and offers companionship.

He told us about a time that he got a visit with a 98-year-old man. He was supposed to drive him to an appointment, and as they drove, the man started telling David old war stories. When they arrived at the clinic, David didn't want him to get out of the car. He just wanted to keep listening to him share. David said he could tell that the veteran was enjoying the conversation as well.

Another time, David was assign to pick up an older woman to take her to the pharmacy to get her medication. Once she got in the car, she told him that her pharmacy had asked her to download an app in order to track her prescriptions, but didn't understand how to use it. David spent a little time with her teaching her how to use it and together, they discovered that via the app, her pharmacy could deliver her medication to her door. She was very thankful as it allowed her to use her Papa visits for companionship and other tasks.

On another visit, David picked up a woman who used a walker. As they walked to his car, he opened the door for her, helped her in, folded up her walker and put it in the back. When he sat down to drive, he noticed that she had tears streaming down her face. David asked her if she was okay and she explained that on her last appointment (when she didn't have a Papa Pal to help her) she had tried to manage her walker and getting into and out of the appointment alone. It was stressful, painful and embarrassing. Having a Papa Pal to help made it so she was able to navigate what was otherwise a really difficult situation.

These types of interactions really solidified in David's mind that older adults really can be independent and live on their own as long as they have someone there to lend a helping hand. David wants to be the person who lends that hand.

David likes going out for walks in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. He loves being outside in the fresh air, having time under the trees. On one such walk, David realized that if he enjoys the outdoors, then perhaps some of the members he works with would as well. So he's started offering to take his members on walks to help them get a little exercise. When he offers a walk, the answer is almost always yes.

David says it's clear from his interactions that people crave connection. Social interactions can be a real boost to mental health and also to physical health. David says he's read the studies and seen the research about this, but he doesn't have to know the research to know it's true. He sees it every day as he works.

David says his job as a Papa Pal has showed him the value of giving back. He says even the smallest things like helping someone bring their groceries in or picking up someone to go to an appointment make a huge difference in someone's life. He just wants to treat people the way he want to be treated. Call it what you may: Karma, sowing and reaping, or the universe, David believes that when you put something out it’s going to come back. He says that's how life works.

And at Papa, he's repaid for his time with stories and friendship, making every minute worth it.