Purpose: An Essential Ingredient of Whole Health

A sense of purpose is vital for achieving whole health. Learn how our members and Papa Pals like Desmond find purpose through service and connection with others.

Purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning; it’s your reason for living. Purpose answers the question: What is the point? 

But why is it so important? 

In our view, purpose is one of the four dimensions of whole health—alongside physical, mental, and social health. Purpose refers to the extent that an individual sees their life as having meaning, a sense of direction, belonging, and/or goals. You can be a reasonably healthy person, by all traditional standards, but if you don’t have purpose, you won’t feel whole.

For many of our Papa members, meeting with their Pal is a big (and maybe the only) reason to get up and get dressed in the morning. Papa Pals provide connection, give members a sense of belonging, and make them feel like they’re part of something larger. 

That’s purpose. 

And it’s not just our members who find purpose in those visits. Our Papa Pals find meaning and purpose in them too.

Finding purpose in serving others

Earlier this year, we spoke to 16 highly-engaged Papa Pals about how their work with their regular members affects them. This group includes one Papa Pal who has completed more than 1,000 visits and others who have seen the same member more than 50 and 100 times.

Of those Papa Pals we spoke with, 100% said their work with their regular members:

  • Contributes to their sense of purpose
  • Increases their self-worth
  • Improves their physical, mental, and emotional health
  • Makes them feel better about themselves
  • Motivates them to improve relationships with their family, friends, and community

Our Papa Pals do this work because they want to help others in their community. They have a heart for service and have found passion, companionship—and purpose—through Papa.

For so many of our Pals—31% of whom live alone—their visits with their members are what get them out of bed in the morning, too.

Meet Papa Pal Desmond

Desmond is a Papa Pal driven by purpose. He has been working for Faith Bound Street Ministry, a non-profit that helps unhoused people in San Antonio, for almost eight years. The organization provides clothing, toiletries, and food to people in the community and lets them know they're not alone. 

“When I see [the people we serve], I see myself,” Desmond says. “Because at any moment that could be me in their position.” 

When he heard about Papa, Desmond was immediately interested. He resonated with our mission after seeing how closely it aligned with the purposeful work he’s already doing in his community. He got started on his Papa journey right away and has since completed more than 180 visits! 

“Being a Pal doesn't even feel like work,” he says, “it’s just blessing people. Being able to help people who really need it, making a difference every day. You can’t put a price tag on someone’s gratitude.”

Finding purpose in small acts of kindness

When you think about the fact that Papa Pals have conducted nearly 2 million visits to date, you can imagine just how wide the ripple effects of companionship and social support can be. Even the smallest acts of service can create those ripples and sense of purpose. 

Every year, we dedicate one week—we call it Be a Pal Week—to going above and beyond to encourage and celebrate simple acts of kindness and connection that together, add up to so much more.

What’s something small, but impactful, you can do this week in your community to serve others? Something as simple as striking up a conversation with an elderly neighbor who lives alone or calling up an old friend to catch up can brighten the other person’s day and give you a sense of purpose as well. 

Join us and share your impact on social media using the hashtag #BeAPal. We can’t wait to see the ripple effect you cause!