Meet our Speak2 Pal Volunteer – Reid Smallwood

Meet Our Speak2 Pal Volunteer 

Speak2 Pals Volunteer Program & Cox Communications 

Speak2 Family creates a new way to strengthen the connection between aging loved ones and their friends, family, caretakers, and others that significantly impact their lives. Not only has it been essential to provide our Speak2 users with a platform to communicate easily, but it also has been imperative to design a volunteer program to help seniors start conversations. Thus, Speak2 Pals was born! 

Speak2 Pals empowers users to communicate with a community of volunteer “Pals” on just about anything. Such as, daily activities, hobbies, funny stories, and more!  Pals communicate through text on their mobile devices, while seniors can listen to and send voice messages via Amazon’s Alexa. We recently had an opportunity to talk with one of our most active Pals, Reid. Reid is from Irvine, California, and has been a part of the Speak2 Pals program for one year. On top of being a Pal, Reid is a corporate recruiter for Cox Communications and enjoys spending time with family, cheering on his favorite sports teams, and watching movies. We are very excited to showcase his unique and inspiring journey from becoming a Pal, to what he has learned while being a part of the program.

The Interview

Q: You were introduced to the Speak2 Pals program through Speak2 Family at Regency Fallbrook. What attracted you? Why did you decide to use Speak2 Pals?

 I have two grandparents, in their late 80’s, with whom I’m very close. My grandfather suffers from dementia, and I notice a major difference in his cognitive function on days when he gets more stimulation. This program gave me an opportunity to provide that for individuals who cannot receive visitors due to the virus or other circumstances. If five to ten minutes of my time can positively impact the remainder of a day for another, then it is well worth it. Speak2 Pals allowed me to easily do this from home, and on my own time. 

Q: What other volunteer programs did you use prior? 

Cox does a great job of giving their employees a chance to give back. In the past, I’ve been able to partner with The United Way, Ronald McDonald House, Police Activities League, a local food bank, and other groups. 2020 posed unique challenges with the need to limit gatherings and in-person activities. I really enjoy that Speak2 Pals gave me the opportunity to give back while working from home. I had never done virtual volunteering before, but I have been very pleased with the experience. 

Q: Tell us about how you view talking with seniors and how technology might help. How do you feel about seniors using technology, and is it something that you find important, and if so, why?

Human connection is very important for one’s mental health, and 2020 has presented unprecedented challenges in terms of connecting with loved ones. Technology can help bridge the gap. Regardless of age, I know that learning new things can seem arduous and intimidating. However, I do believe that investing the time and effort to learn to successfully use technology is well worth it. 

Q: What made you happiest about working with Speak2 Pals? 

I routinely leave messages that include fun trivia facts. “Did you know the national animal of Scotland is the unicorn?”. Let me save you the search and time, it’s true. I received the feedback that my messages were being played in the lunchroom and were leading to conversations at the tables. Increasing the activity, stimulation, and interaction of the residents of Regency Fallbrook had been my goal. So, this absolutely warmed my heart and has made it all worthwhile.

Q: Would you recommend Speak2 Pals or the Speak2 Family app to others, and why? How do you feel about the experience? 

I’ve been very pleased with the experience working with Speak2 Pals. They made it easy for me to give back on my own time. I would absolutely recommend this program to others. 

More on Speak2 Pals Volunteer Program

Overall, Speak2 Pals is an excellent way for seniors to stay engaged with their loved ones and participate in new communities. From Reid’s experience, it is clear that both seniors and volunteer “Pals” look forward to these conversations. In all, thank you to Reid for sharing his story and giving insight into what it means to participate in the program. We look forward to more interviews with our Speak2 Pals!

Want to learn more about the Speak2 Pal program and how you can get involved? Click here.

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