Our Mission and Story
We all need somebody to lean on, especially during times of crisis.
Our Founder and Director Gaby Li is a Stanford University student studying human-centered and cross-cultural approaches to community health. Just weeks before the intensifying COVID-19 pandemic forced most undergraduates to vacate campus in the middle of the Winter quarter, Gaby sat in her dorm room playing “Amazing Grace” on the cello into her phone speaker. On the other end of the line sat her grandmother, miles away in Virginia, who, although unable to open her eyes, was listening and smiling.
Soon after this phone call, her grandmother passed away--Gaby’s last moments with her, remote.
While Gaby’s family was lucky enough to hold a funeral before funeral homes and stores began closing, she began to worry about how the older adults at her grandma’s previous residence were doing, as well as other friends at the nursing homes Gaby used to frequent in high school. After calling various residences, she learned quickly of the new safety protocols restricting visitors and family members, as well as the increasing concerns of loneliness due to limited social interaction.
In honor of her grandma and her love of the arts, Gaby started Virtual Companions to forge a way for other youth and older adults to connect virtually over conversations and the arts. In this current pandemic, there is a need now, more than ever, for creative, accessible solutions that leverage technology and the arts to facilitate meaningful connections. Virtual Companions is now led by a group of students and adults all over the United States, with a growing network of over 600 people across the country, ranging from high school students to individuals over 100 years old, connecting through our four programs. Each participant is neither a volunteer nor a recipient, but rather part of a web of intergenerational support as both a giver and receiver of mentorship, life lessons, and empathy. We hope to continue to grow this network to bridge the gap between generations and build community together.
Virtual Companions is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to foster acts of kindness and meaningful companionships between generations through conversation, community, and the arts. We hope to reduce loneliness and provide social support and community to the people who stand to benefit the most through 4 programs: PhonePal, PenPal, Cards & Crafts, and Virtual Concerts.
We are working to combat loneliness and ageism by:
Fostering genuine, intergenerational connections through an accessible & inclusive community
Empowering socially isolated individuals to connect, create, and collaborate
Bringing joy through music, service, and the arts
We strive to engage all generations in service and in empathy and to leverage technology in a way that facilitates meaningful connections. In times of tragedy, fear, and isolation, we need connection, compassion, and community more than ever.
Join our virtual intergenerational community today!