Beth Carrigan is founder and executive director of the Light Heart Foundation. Beth has spent more than 25 years visiting elderly living in retirement, assisted living, skilled nursing and convalescent communities.
Although such visitations have been a lifelong devotion for Beth Carrigan out of the caring of her heart, her professional life also reflects her enduring commitment to connecting generations. Beth served in the mortgage banking field for 17 years, ultimately becoming vice president of one institution. During that time she organized and set up a loan department that dealt with conventional FHA & VA loans.
Customer relations were a key component of Beth’s work in the banking industry. She frequently acted as a community liaison for customers with lenders, builders, bankers and other professionals in the field. Instrumental in helping banking institutions develop communication skills for their elder customers, she installed resource showcases for elders in branch lobbies of Washington Mutual in California so elders could learn what was available to serve their needs. She coordinated a team called Spotlight On Seniors © Senior Resources for Family and Friends. This team would send speakers out into various community organizations that wanted information on senior services for their members. Beth also led sensitivity training for tellers on how to best communicate with the senior population.
For more than 20 years Beth has developed and coordinated outreach events that engaged all generations. The Light Heart Foundation sponsored the first intergenerational event on record in The San Fernando Valley in 1999, showcasing organizations and available services of those communities. The 1982 Sherman Oaks Street Faire in California, that Beth chaired, helped community members learn about business services while having the opportunity to get acquainted with each other.
Beth was involved in volunteer projects that helped to create a play therapy division with a special play room in a number of hospitals. These play programs get children out of bed so they can interact with family members more easily. Beth also worked with families who had sick children and helped them learn how to navigate the medical arena. In addition, she was a Raggedy Ann volunteer and then became the Volunteer Coordinator bring the Raggedy Anns & Andys into the San Fernando Valley of California for the “Love Yourself” Foundation. Her focus in each of these programs was intentional intergenerational relationship building.
Beth’s greatest work is identifying and engaging the strengths of one group of people to meet the needs of another. Since relocating the Light Heart Foundation from California to Arizona’s Verde Valley in 2000, Beth has continued to expand her work with businesses, organizations and agencies. She helps them recognize why they do what they do – to serve not only the seniors who live in facilities, but the families of the elderly, facility staff, and the community at large in a way that provides healthy support to all. From her own experience as a child, she knows the value of children’s interactions with seniors. Having this understanding with children and youth throughout the communities that Light Heart serves, makes visitations to the elderly some of Beth’s most fulfilling moments.