I am a first-generation child of Mexican immigrated parents. My parents worked a lot to provide for our family, but with their hard work came the sacrifice of their time to be with me as a child. My grandpa, Pop, and I were bonded from birth; he was like my second dad. He helped out when my parents we unavailable, he picked me up from school for as long as I can remember, and we’d have lunch dates at McDonald's on minimum days as our mid-week treat. We grew up together, and as he aged, I started taking care of him too.
In 2012, I had one of the hardest conversations I ever had to have with Pop. I was going to college in Los Angeles and it would be the first time I was far away from him. I remember it was Valentines day, and I told him while he ate a bowl of Cheerios. He was more excited for me than I was! By the time I graduated, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to senior citizens.
While I was gone, Pop picked up a walking routine that he loved. Three times a day, every day until the fateful day of October 18, 2017 at age 90. After Pop died, I decided to get my Master’s degree to really put my expertise to work. Upon graduating at the end of 2020, I drove past an older man and his aide that changed the course of my life forever.
On a walk outside in the neighborhood, an elderly man with his four-wheeled walker looked up at his aide saying through his body language, “Hello? Are you there? Are you going to talk to me?”. The aide was completely disengaged and looking at his phone, ignoring the man. I witnessed this several times and each time it broke my heart open more and more. The aide’s disinterest emanated loudly to the elderly man and I could feel the man’s sadness in his eyes. Suddenly, I knew my innate calling was to create a solution by putting together my professional and personal experience of eldercare.
From that moment, Walk With Pop was born! A concept birthed from Pop and I’s companionship, his personal walking routine, and my professional experience of witnessing too many isolated and lonely seniors desperate for connection and fresh air.