Jessica and Sebastian: Sharing Walks and Perspectives

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We are delighted to introduce you to Jessica and Sebastian (with his dog Rocky, a seven-pound, longhair Chihuahua and Afghan Pincher mix). Jessica has been Sebastian’s Peer Support Volunteer (PSV) since fall 2019. Both Jessica and Sebastian grew up in the South Bay, identify with San Francisco’s LGBTQ+ community, and enjoy walking outdoors. Having conversations and sharing perspectives has been easy for the pair.

“We connect socially, see eye to eye, and trust each other. She’s always on time. It seems more and more like people have made it a habit to be flaky, whereas Jessica is responsible and communicative,” Sebastian said.

Since Sebastian lives near the downtown Westfield mall, he and Jessica usually walk Rocky and shop together. Jessica supports Sebastian by actively listening to him and sharing about her own life. “We especially like talking about how the San Francisco nightlife has evolved from when Sebastian first moved to the city in the 1980s to the present day,” she said. “We share stories and share our cultural heritage,” said Sebastian.

Sebastian is blind and cannot walk by himself due to a complication from Guillain-Barre syndrome. Jessica is a great support and up for new adventures. “Once we walked all the way to the Mission, bought masa and a tortilla press and made tortillas,” he recalled.

Jessica learned about Shanti through her workplace’s internal volunteering database. After reading about Shanti’s Peer Support Volunteer program, she knew the opportunity would be a great fit. Jessica has a background in psychology and she loves the evidence-based training provided by Shanti for their Peer Support Volunteers. “I have learned so much from and about an individual I would have never crossed paths with. I have learned to become much more grateful for the basic things I have, and to find the silver lining in all situations, as I always see Sebastian doing. I feel I’ve become a much more positive and well-rounded individual by becoming a Peer Support Volunteer,” said Jessica.

Shanti’s Peer Support Volunteer program connects people across the city who may have different backgrounds and life experiences but find commonalities that draw them together. As Sebastian said, “If you do things together that you both enjoy doing, then you’ll look forward to it and have longevity in the volunteer program.”

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