Episode 52


November 12, 2020

Judy showcases San Mateo resident Eunice Lin Nichols and how her nonprofit Encore.org is helping bring generations together.

Episode Audio:


I’m Judy Gordon, and this is San Mateo Focus. As long-term residents who have raised six kids here, we thought it was high time someone shined a light on the good things in San Mateo to enrich the lives of those living here and the businesses that serve them. If you want to know the best places to eat and play, the events not to miss, and want to know how San Mateo became the crown jewel of the peninsula, tune in every Thursday and please be sure to click the ‘subscribe’ button on your favorite podcast app. Now, onto this week’s episode.    

If you’re lucky, you get to create a career out of your passion. San Mateo resident Eunice Lin Nichols has done just that, and her passion is not really a hobby or a field of study, it is the memory that she holds of growing up in an intergenerational family. As the Vice President of Innovation for San Francisco nonprofit Encore.org, she is obsessed with bringing older and younger generations together to solve society’s biggest problems, creating a better future for all. Part of her driving passion is to work to change the infrastructure that keeps us segregated by age. 

Eunice is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants. Her parents came to the U.S. for grad school. Like many immigrants, once they were stable, they brought their own parents over from Taiwan. When she graduated from college and got her first job in Boston as a management consultant it was super exciting, and she was working with mostly people her same age. However, it took her a few years to understand that she felt unrooted and she realized it was because she didn’t have the multi-generational social connections that gave her comfort as she was growing up. She missed her immigrant and faith communities. She moved from Boston to San Francisco and interviewed for a new career. She was hired to launch Experience Corps Bay Area, where she ended up recruiting and working with 200 volunteer reading tutors who were over 50 years old. They helped low-income students read in the first through third grades. She felt at home working in a multi-generational environment, surrounded by the wisdom and the attitude of service by committed older adults.    

Encore.org is a nonprofit dedicated to bridging divides and connecting across generations. They work to change the culture by elevating new ideas and diverse voices on the power of connection and collaboration across generational divides. They accelerate innovation by offering a variety of fellowships. Encore is more of a think tank that spurs other innovators’ activities. They try to build the field. Their fellowships are an investment in leaders who will go out and do amazing things through their own organizations, or in a grass roots way. Experience Corps is an example of an Encore idea that they grew and then transitioned to AARP to manage. Encore Fellowships are midlife internships that make it easier to transition to careers in the social sector. So far, 2,000+ fellows have provided more than two million hours of service in Encore careers in over 50 metropolitan areas. Encore staff won the 2018 Eisner Prize for Intergenerational Excellence. Eunice won the 2019 Irvine Leadership Award and CEO Marc Freedman has won numerous awards including the Social Entrepreneur of the Year, given by the World Economic Forum. 

Given her passion, her work, and the fact that she and her husband chose to live and raise their family in San Mateo, I asked Eunice about opportunities that she sees for intergenerational programs in San Mateo that can be realistically accomplished. She had several ideas, and also noted that Encore’s Gen2Gen Cities guide profiles many programs that have been created and are successful in cities all over the country. We provide a link to it on our episode webpage at sanmateofocus.com.  

Eunice says that San Mateo’s events and public spaces can be made intentionally intergenerational, both in outreach and in the design of the activities. Specifically, consider creating a booth at one of the public events in Central Park staffed by residents who have lived here for 30 years or more with a sign that encourages kids or new families to drop by and hear a story about San Mateo or ask a question about their neighborhood. Or commission a mural in one of the parks done as a collaboration between the senior center and a nearby elementary school. Some people are natural storytellers, so an intergenerational storytelling night could be a wonderful event for the Library.  

Encore Fellows have been placed in city government roles in San Jose, and Eunice thinks that it would be great if that could happen in San Mateo, too. Also, co-locate intergenerational programs—run senior programs and kids programs at the same time—and build-in intentional connection between the two groups.   

Silvernest is a homesharing platform that Encore has partnered with. It could be promoted as a way for San Mateo empty nesters to age in place and earn a little extra income and help younger people access affordable housing.  

Eunice loves San Mateo because of its diversity on all fronts, which includes age diversity. She thinks San Mateo has all the raw ingredients as a city to be a truly intergenerational town that sees each other as assets. Young families with children need as much help as older adults and both have as much to give each other. There is no shortage of people, creativity, or care and innovation that can create the community everyone wants to live in.   

We’ve got more to talk about regarding generations coming together in San Mateo, so here’s the deal: next week we will have some information on San Mateo’s official certification by the World Health Organization and AARP as an Age-Friendly City..  

Okay, that’s all the time we have for this episode. Have a great week. Don’t forget to subscribe to San Mateo Focus on your favorite Podcast app. As always, if you’d like more information about the topics in today’s episode or any of our sponsors, visit sanmateofocus.com.  


@Encore.org @Silvernest @Eldera @AARP @iamGen2Gen @HelloMonAmi