Information provided by Bob Campbell with the Seniors Council of Santa Cruz and San Benito counties.
By developing safe and trusting relationships with students, foster grandparents boost confidence, enhance engagement with the learning process, and help teachers to create the best possible classrooms for children from lower socioeconomic status and those with special needs in San Benito County.
The Seniors Council Foster Grandparent Program recruits, trains and supports low-income senior volunteers to assist preschool through third grade children. With funding provided in part by a Community Matching Impact Grant from the Community Foundation for San Benito County, foster grandparents provide more than 14,500 hours of individualized tutoring to 45 children in classrooms in the Hollister and Aromas-San Juan Bautista School Districts and the San Benito County Head Start Program each year. At this moment, with the help of these volunteers, children are improving their language and literacy skills, making advancements in cognitive and social development. These positive steps are helping to guide students’ academic success toward high school graduation and becoming constructive forces in our county.
Foster grandparents receive many enduring benefits of volunteer service. Eighty percent of our volunteers report a greater connection to their community, a more active lifestyle and an overall improvement in their quality of life. Founded on the principle that volunteering should not take money out of the pocket of those who volunteer, foster grandparents receive a $2.65 an hour stipend as well as reimbursements for the cost of transportation to their volunteer assignments. With an average income of just $12,295, stipend payments also help our volunteers make ends meet by providing a little extra cash for rent, healthy food, PG&E and medication.
In the words of Foster Grandma Linda: “All of my experience has been very positive with being a Foster Grandparent. It has really improved my life. Before becoming a Foster Grandparent, I had too much time on my hands and nothing to do – I felt very blue. Now I feel like I’m contributing to society and it feels very good. It’s been good for my self-
esteem working with the children because I feel so respected and useful. The children actually make me feel young again and involved in the world!”
To become a foster grandparent or to find out more about our program please visit our web site www.seniorscouncil.org or contact us at (831) 475-0816 x112.