Caring for seniors in Central Texas

November 28, 2022 Chelsey Sleator
Inspired by their mission to help seniors, learn how Chip has created a lasting volunteer relationship.

Chip Skinkis, a member of Schwab’s Retirement Business Services team, recalls meeting a woman who became a fulltime caretaker after a debilitating accident left her brother mentally and physically impaired. She explained to Chip that it was a very challenging situation to be in— she had to find a way to be there for her brother, but also be able to work to support them both.

It was AGE of Central Texas that helped her find a way to balance it all. Through AGE, an organization based in Austin, TX with a mission to help older adults and their caregivers, the woman found a safe and engaging place to take her brother during the day. She also found resources that allowed her to be a more confident and capable caregiver.

“I saw this huge sense of relief,” explains Chip. “She told me that because of AGE she has to the space to live and do the things she needs to do, even get some much-needed respite from time to time.”

It’s stories like this that caused Chip to become a dedicated supporter of AGE’s mission. He first encountered the organization when he served as a volunteer there as part of Schwab Volunteer Week (Schwab’s annual week dedicated to service) in 2015. He was so inspired by the impact of the organization that he became the Schwab Ambassador to AGE—connecting them to the company to find opportunities for partnership—and later became a member of their board.

Relating personally, and caring deeply

“I love their mission,” explains Chip. “I watched my mom care for my stepfather, and my grandmother. I know it took a lot for her to be ther for them. That’s why AGE made such an impact on me—I see how they remove burdens that often cause stress on families. They improve the emotional and physical quality of life for caregivers and the people that need care.”

Jayden Beatty, AGE’s Chief Development Officer, also has a personal connection to the mission. She watched her mother care for her grandmother, and later she helped take care of her as well.

“We couldn’t care for her the way she needed,” explains Jayden. “[My grandmother’s] mental and physical health declined, and my mother carries a lot of guilt about that. So I really connect to the purpose of AGE, which would have made a huge difference in our lives.”

Chip Skinkis volunteering at AGE

Chip Skinkis with a member of AGE

It's a team effort

As a non-profit, AGE often relies on volunteers and support from the community.

“There’s a very deep, multi-faceted connection with Schwab,” explains Jayden. “Schwab helps us with sponsorships, that in turn help us bring in more money. We also get employees that return every year to volunteer. Some of them become donors, and others, like Chip, become advocates and invaluable assets.”

Jayden recalls meeting Chip during her first year at AGE and seeing first-hand how Chip’s infectious personality drew people to him. Many of AGE’s members (what AGE calls the individuals they care for while their caregivers are working) have cognitive illnesses like dementia, and communication is a way to keep their brains alive. They tell the same stories over and over again, but to be able to tell it to a new face can have an emotional impact on them.

“People were practically tripping over themselves to talk to Chip,” laughs Jayden.

Finding new connections during a lonely time

During the pandemic, many of AGE’s members found themselves very isolated. Recognizing this, Chip connected AGE with members of Schwab’s Organization of Latinxs (SOL), an employee resource group, to start a letter-writing campaign. In 2021 SOL delivered 134 cards written in Spanish and English for Valentine’s Day and they continue to send cards or treat kits to members twice a year.

“In the Hispanic culture, there’s a tradition of inter-generational families, and taking care of your family” explains Daisy Ordonez, chair of Austin SOL. “So we really connected to the cause.”

Schwab continues to look for new ways to deepen its relationship with AGE and was recently rewarded with a philanthropy award from the organization.

“Honestly, I got a little choked up,” explains Chip, who accepted the award on Schwab’s behalf. “To hear them tell what kind of impact we’ve had on their organization and the people they take care of was really inspiring. I look forward to a long partnership.”