Love enough for all the children

Posted By | August 29, 2002 12:00 am

Kim Swindell Wood
The days of sitting on the porch with grandma and grandpa, while they tell stories of their childhood, have almost disappeared. However, there is one group of energetic senior citizens who still believe in spreading their love around, and they are known as Foster Grandparents.
Cheryl Pack, program coordinator, is excited about the success rate documented in 2001, which stated more than 30,000 Foster Grandparents nationwide tended to the needs of 275,000 young children and teenagers. “All children need that extra little boost they can get from a grandparent,” said Pack. “Some children’s grandparents may be deceased, or they may not be able to visit them because they live far away. Even if their grandparents are a part of their lives, our Foster Grandparents help enhance the nurturing and give the children that one-on-one attention many of them need.”
To qualify to become a Foster Grandparent, the individual must be at least 60 years old; be able to volunteer an average of 20 hours a week; have limited income; and love children. According to Pack, the senior citizens who volunteer also receive numerous benefits, which include pre-service orientation and monthly training; an annual physical examination; supplemental insurance; a small stipend for those who qualify; help with meal and transportation costs; and the joy of knowing they are making a difference in the lives of children.
According to Pack, a Foster Grandparent will give help, attention and love to children who have special needs. A Foster Grandparent will volunteer four hours a day, Monday through Friday, and there are no educational requirements.
Pack said the Foster Grandparents are “a blessing in disguise.” The roles of these men and women are integral to the functioning of the facilities where they are assigned.
White County currently has nine Foster Grandparents, with two at Head Start; two at Woodland Park Elementary; four at Findlay Elementary; and one at BonDeCroft Elementary. The list of dedicated senior citizens include Lorraine Frasier, Jewell Hoffman, Victoria Haney, Ruth Manus, Pearl Howell, Estelle Billings, Audrey Carter and Katie Braddom. “They can help in any facility that is non-profit,” said Pack.
For more information on becoming a Foster Grandparent call Pack at 931/528-6488. She may also be contacted at the L.B.J.&C. Foster Grandparent Program office at 240 Carlen Drive in Cookeville.

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