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CWS Partner Spotlight: St. Paul’s Senior Services

Above: These eight students worked at St. Paul’s Senior Services for their work study placement during the 2021-2022 school year and were celebrated during a reception in June 2022. Read on to learn more about the partnership between Cristo Rey San Diego and St. Paul’s.

St. Paul’s Senior Services (SPSS) has been caring for San Diego seniors since 1960. With the changing needs of today’s older adults, SPSS services have expanded to bring innovative choices to seniors and caregivers seeking resources for independent living, assisted living and personal care, memory care, medical oversight, and life enrichment. SPSS was the first non-profit organization to bring PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) to San Diego County back in 2008. Since then, St. Paul’s PACE has expanded to four clinics and has helped more than 2,000 low-income San Diego seniors access medical care, social services, nutrition, transportation, and home care so they can remain living safely in their homes.

SPSS and its PACE program have employed students from the Cristo Rey San Diego Corporate Work Study Program since 2021. The Corporate Work Study Program was initially introduced by way of an existing professional relationship with a Cristo Rey board member. Upon learning about the program and the impressive potential impact on students’ future success it was clear that a partnership was in order as SPSS has historically supported intergenerational programs frequently bringing together both the younger and more senior generations.

SPSS has discovered that partnering with Cristo Rey not only benefits the students, it has also been beneficial to staff. Staff have enjoyed the infusion of new energy, satisfaction in knowing that they are helping shape the next workforce generation as well as having extra hands on deck – especially considering the challenge of filling job openings in the current market. Undoubtedly, the students have been a blessing to SPSS and PACE!

Students have filled various roles from administrative support and helping plan, set up and staff events to direct interaction with senior residents and PACE participants. Students have taken it upon themselves to create relationships with residents through games, crafts, writing their biographies, and creating a resident newsletter. Where possible, each student’s interests and strengths are matched with roles that support the organizations’ mission and vision. Sometimes that means shadowing and assisting medical staff to learn more about a career in nursing.

If you are considering whether to hire a student, PACE Executive Assistant, Donna Rose Llanda says, “Hiring a team of students is a great opportunity for both you and the students. People are often quick to assume students are “too young” or are “not ready” but why not be the person to give them the chance to be ready? I personally think students are the best group of people to hire since they are so shapeable and can provide insight on things you may not even think about. Students who are willing to work are inevitably also eager to learn, which is something so valuable in any work environment.”

Lucy Sedillo, PACE Project Coordinator, also adds, “Be positive, prepared, patient, enthusiastic and creative with your intern projects and schedules. Most of all, make it fun and stress free for the both of you.”

As for words of wisdom to students? Donna Rose and Lucy advise “Come in excited and ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask questions because this is how you will learn! Don’t be shy to volunteer in any department that you see you might have interest in. High school is a great time to make mistakes and it’s a great time to learn from them. Work hard and learn to realize that everything is a learning process, so don’t be too hard on yourself.”