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The Secret Life of Honor Employees

What We’re Doing
It’s 10 am on a warm Friday morning. I’m standing with two Honor software engineers on the front steps of Eugene Courtois’ home in Noe Valley. But we aren’t here to help this 83-year-old San Francisco man with tech support, we’re just here to help—with whatever he needs.

Eugene greeted us warmly at the door of the home he and his wife Diane had shared for four decades, until her passing eight years ago following a long illness. He invited us in and offered us fresh organic strawberries and Oreos.

Eugene is an artist. Every wall of every room in the house is covered with his work—oil paintings of his wife, charcoal nudes, floral watercolors, and woodcuts of a whimsical cow from his native Wisconsin. He’s even transformed a non-functioning piece of exercise equipment parked in the dining room into a display for his works-in-progress.

That day Eugene needed help cutting back the overgrowth in his backyard, what he calls his “lush urban jungle.” We pulled on gloves he had laid out for us next to a choice of hand clippers and went to work in his garden—me and two guys who are used to spending the day in front of dark screens, writing code. Lots of sunscreen was applied.

Honor helps 83-year-old Gene Courtois in his yard.

Kevin and Jim, two of Honor’s ace software engineers, help Eugene Courtois cut back the overgrowth in his yard—and learn a whole new definition of snippet.

We weren’t the only Honor employees volunteering that day to help members of San Francisco Village. Over a dozen Honor co-workers—from engineering, marketing, business development, and graphic design—were busy flipping mattresses, organizing boxes of photos, offering, yes, some home tech support, weatherizing outdoor furniture, and getting to know some remarkable people.

Cam Ring, one of Honor's co-founders, helps Linda Lewin with her computer.

Cam Ring, one of Honor’s co-founders, helps Linda Lewin set-up her computer and internet connection, and master the oh-so-helpful, split-screen function.

This wasn’t the first day Honor had participated in San Francisco Village’s Volunteer Day. And it won’t be the last.

We’re big fans of San Francisco Village—and the whole village community movement—not just because we respect the work they do as a nonprofit community-based organization that empowers older people, but also because we share very similar missions. SF Village connects members who need help at home with volunteers. Honor connects older adults who need help with skilled Care Professionals. We’re both helping older adults stay well, in every sense of the word, as they age in their own homes and communities.

Honor helps Dr. Bonita Palmer at home.

Delyan, Cécile, and Ann help Dr. Bonita Palmer tackle a few seasonal projects that she no longer enjoys doing herself.

Everyone needs help. That’s part of being human. Sometimes you need a lot of help. Sometimes just a little. Often, the hardest part of asking for help is knowing when and who to ask, especially when family isn’t available or living nearby. At Honor, we’re just trying to make asking for help a whole lot easier.

If you’re not already familiar with San Francisco Village and its many services, we hope you’ll learn more and maybe even support them as a volunteer. And if you’re curious about other locations of the many villages (over 170 around the country and growing fast!) or how you can start a village in your own community, visit the Village-to-Village Network.

Be sure to tell them Honor sent you.

We’re not just building a better way to help older people stay happy and healthy in their own homes, we’re building relationships. By the end of the day, Gene (the artist formerly known as Eugene) and I were discussing printmaking and trading email addresses. Last week we went out for Chinese food. Next week, it might be Thai.

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