Our Roots:  A Brief History of AASPC

The birth of the American Association of Senior Peer Counseling has a wonderful beginning, springing forth from the grassroots Senior Peer Counseling Movement in California.  A logical progression of events transpired, as the concept of a mother organization came together, bit by bit. 

Evelyn Freeman, PhD, from the Center for Healthy Aging in Santa Monica trained Senior Peer Counseling Trainers from all over California and created  a training manual that is used in other countries as well as in the USA.  At about the same time, in 1988, Lockey Welch (Kjelson) (San Joaquin), spearheaded an idea for administrators and volunteer counselors to gather together to provide support and to exchange information on a regular basis.  Dr. Evelyn Freeman (Santa Monica) and Paul Jepson (San Bernardino), worked diligently with Lockey to create the quarterly Network Meetings that continue to meet quarterly in both Northern and Southern California.

A conference committee of volunteer administrators was the next step in the developmental plan.  The annual statewide Senior Peer Counseling Conference, first held in 1989, provided a wonderful opportunity for north to meet south in an atmosphere of shared learning and camaraderie.  All the while, as network and conference committee members encouraged political activism in advocating for seniors in California, the Conference Committee set about exploring necessary steps to create a non-profit organization that would give more visibility and legitimacy to the senior peer counseling movement.

Early in the 1990’s, preliminary work began with Lorraine Kroetch, State Department of Aging, toward developing a non-profit organization, but the project had to be put on hold.  And then like the rising of the Albatross, a committee led by Dana Smith ( Mendocino), including Jean Mellberg, (Sacramento) and Nancy Scott (Lake), was formed to begin work on by-laws.  Articles of incorporation were submitted December 14, 1998, and approved January 6, 1999.  The American Association of Senior Peer Counseling received its 501c3 status and became a not for profit organization on October 14, 1999.

The six member conference committee conveniently became the first Board of Directors.  At the Association’s first annual meeting held during the 2000 annual conference, three volunteer Senior Peer Counselors were elected as additional board members. 

Due to the tireless efforts of Grant Committee Chairperson Jean Mellberg (Sacramento), on March 20, 2002 The California Endowment approved an Infrastructure Funding Grant for AASPC in the amount of $25,000.  That funding allowed the Association to develop in significant ways. Details of the grant and resulting board action are included in the Association’s 2002 annual report.

AASPC’s future success depends on expanding financial capabilities, adding new members, and increasing the active participation by those working actively for the Association or by supporting the Senior Peer Counseling Programs.

We are closer to living up to our title of The American Senior Peer Counseling Programs. We need your continued support in all areas.

Our website is a major resource for spreading the word about the great work that is happening in Senior Peer Counseling programs around the US and further.