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My experience as a senior peer counselor 

I've been volunteering in San Luis Obispo for many years, but not until I became a senior peer counselor at Wilshire Health and Community Services did I realize what wonderful things it did for me.

Having the opportunity to go into the homes of older adults and listen to their life stories and be of some support and comfort is the greatest gift to me.

Last week I spent four hours with two of the most amazing women I've ever had the pleasure to meet. Listening to their life as it was and as it is now in an advanced age, was like a light into a dark room. They spoke of their ups and downs, how they handled them and how they might handle things if they had to repeat their life. It was an honor to meet them and to bring some level of comfort to their daily life.

We sometimes laugh and sometimes cry but as our time together comes to an end we both feel like we have made some progress and are feeling grateful—they because they are listened to and supported, me because I am blessed by getting to know them.

Senior peer counselors are trained to offer suggestions for resources that the community offers and give them the tools they need to contact agencies that can help them in many ways.

This work has had a profound affect on me and it has been a gift to be able to offer support to my clients, watch their growth and the pride they take in their accomplishments.

At this time in our lives when the world seems spinning out of control, there are so many people needing help. If you are looking for an opportunity to give back, look into Wilshire Health and Community Services and join the next training for senior peer counseling. You'll help others and have your own life rewarded in so many ways.

If you just want a simple way to help people with errands, shopping, or transportation, you can do that, too. I drive people to various appointments and food shopping or where ever they need to go. People of all ages are reaching out for help in our communities, and this is a way to help them. I took a client to several appointments last week, and she told me she had a "blast," and I was happy to hear that I was able to bring a little joy into her life just by helping with a few errands.

The training and continuing education will give you all the tools you need to help and has added many valuable skills to my personal life as well. You can reach Wilshire at (805) 547-7025—I promise you it's a gift and an honor to do this for people.

Dominic Valentino

senior peer counselor

Morro Bay

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