Why it matters: This is an excellent example of the gig economy at its finest - a service that boosts the quality of life of senior citizens and exposes young people to an older (and wiser) generation, all while serving as a viable source of income.
Technology is often blamed for fostering a culture with far less of an emphasis on social interactions. The burden of loneliness is especially prevalent among senior citizens who, through a combination of things like decreased independence and the fact that their children are grown and leading their own busy lives (often times many miles away), may not have the opportunity to get out, run errands or make personal connections as freely as they once were able to.
It's this void that Papa, a "grandkids on demand" service, looks to fill.
Founded by Andrew Parker, Papa serves as a conduit for connecting senior citizens with young people - it links two generations. Seniors can hire a Papa Pal to lend a hand with tasks like grocery shopping, accompanying them to doctor's appointments, helping out with chores around the house, teaching them how to use modern technology or simply as a companion to chat with.
The service is based out of Florida and has around 250 members at present with plans to expand to other states in the coming years. Members pay a monthly fee on top of hourly rates for visits by Papa Pals, local college students or those working on a masters / medical / nursing degree. Pals are subjected to a background check as well as a personality test and must have a four-door vehicle.
If you're looking to become a Papa Pal to make a few quick bucks, this probably won't be a good fit, says Parker. Instead, the service aims to cure loneliness and give seniors a way to have a fun day without having to inconvenience family members or friends.