March 13, 2020
Partner Program Spotlight: Foster Grandparent
The following account from Mary was provided by Penquis’ Foster Grandparent program, a United Way partner. Your United Way donations support this program. This is her story.
I should begin by saying that the Foster Grandparent program initially appealed to me because I had suffered the loss of my only child in 2016. I was so heartbroken and also mourned the fact that I would not have grandchildren. I thought it would be so nice to hear a child call me grandma, but it has turned into being so much more.
Once I began working with the children at my Head Start placement, my life truly did change. I am not sure I realized how unfulfilled my life was. I feel productive and feel I have a reason for being. Every day is different, just as every child is. Some mornings, I walk through the door and several of the children will run up and hug me. It has been heartwarming to have children who were shy or just testing the water to be among them.
I am assigned to three children to spend extra time with. One of them will be leaving in the fall to begin kindergarten. I am going to miss this little girl so much. She tested me more than any of the other children. I found myself initially being a pushover, but I finally stopped and began to correct her behavior and tried to guide her to be a sharer, less demanding and better able to hear the word “no.” All these traits will help her in kindergarten where she will no longer be the “oldest.” She respects me more as we have grown closer, and I see signs of new maturity.
I have a great relationship with the teachers in my class and received positive feedback at my yearly evaluation. I was told that teachers in other classes have asked the program director, “Can I have one?” and that it is noticed that I don’t just work with three children, but all sixteen. I felt so good hearing this and I felt appreciated. Having had to stop working in my field as a social worker six years ago to go on disability, this means the world to me.
The Foster Grandparent Program is such a wonderful program. They understand that senior citizens often struggle to survive financially. Because of that, they do all they can so volunteers not only receive a stipend, but they are also provided extra opportunities to make more by learning from home, as well as receiving a stipend for snow days, holidays, sick and vacation time. In summary, this program enriches my life, helps me to make it through the month financially and helps children to feel extra special and cared for. I personally give thanks to be able to be a Foster Grandparent.
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