As it makes its way to Santa Clarita, Mon Ami is looking to continue its mission by bridging the gap between seniors and college-age youth.
Mon Ami originally began in the San Francisco Bay Area as a resource for local seniors. It offers a companionship service with college students – graduates, full- or part-time students – at $25 an hour.
Enter Cristin Coffey, growth manager for Mon Ami in Santa Clarita.
“Just having a physical, one-on-one conversation with someone can just be lost, and that’s where we can come in and be really helpful in that way,” she said.
Coffey, a 20-year-old San Jose State University psychology student and Hart High School graduate, started working as a companion late last year and asked her superiors to branch out Mon Ami to Santa Clarita, her hometown. After growing up with a soft spot for the older generation, she said she had the city’s large senior population in mind when she made the offer.
The process to apply is similar for the seniors and companions, where a profile is set up through Mon Ami’s website. Once a senior applies, nearby companions receive an email to accept a chance to meet it the senior based on interests and discussion topics. For example, a promotional video from Mon Ami shows companions asking seniors about the prospects of graduating from college and settling into adult life.
“It wasn’t just the young people enjoying the advice,” Coffey said. “The older people loved hearing what the young people had to say, what was going on in the world, their experiences.”
Though there’s no local office, Coffey has led a campaign to reach out to senior living facilities and resource centers, including Bella Vida senior center and the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as knocking on doors, handing out flyers and promoting the brand on Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor and Twitter. Her next plan is to stop by nearby colleges, specifically College of the Canyons and California State University, Northridge, to search for potential companions.
“Everyone seems really excited,” Coffey said about the feedback she’s received. “Every time I mention what it was, they were just shocked because they had never heard of a company like ours before. It’s very fresh and new, it’s not common at all, especially in Southern California.”
Another aspect of Mon Ami is its sensitivity toward seniors with dementia, helping them develop new friendships, she said.
“(From) the seniors’ standpoint, a lot of the families of the seniors contact us, not really the seniors themselves,” she said. “It’s because they’re isolated and they’re not really being engaged. So that’s a really big reason. For the college student, sometimes a lot of college students are isolated themselves, and this is a good way to engage with someone new and not like everyone else their own age.”
Coffey said that while she plans to return to school in the fall, she will work on training new companions for Mon Ami Santa Clarita to develop their skills, especially in working with seniors with dementia.
All requests from Santa Clarita residents looking for a companionship meeting will be directed to Mon Ami’s Palo Alto office, then sent to Coffey to schedule the meeting.
To learn more about Mon Ami and its services, go to monami.io.