Guest Blogger Wednesday: Mary-Anne Saxl


FOSTER GRANDPARENTS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

VOLUNTEERS IMPACT YOUNG CHILDREN’S LIVES

Many people look forward to retirement and the chance to do everything that they didn’t have time for while working full time. Once those projects are finished, the days get a little longer and the need for a new purpose sets in. The isolation can also bring about depression and loss of a healthy lifestyle. For the people who serve with the Foster Grandparent Program, the loneliness experienced by others age 55 and older is less evident; and in fact, service through the program is proven to help people live longer and avoid feelings of depression.

The Foster Grandparent Program began in 1965 as a program targeting people age 55 and older to serve as tutors and mentors with children in schools and day care centers.

“Foster grandparents are just ordinary people who reach out and take a child’s hand and together make a difference that lasts a lifetime.” – Foster Grandparent from SeDoMoCha, Dover-Foxcroft.

“The Foster Grandparent Program has given me a chance to be a part of something bigger than my own little world, an opportunity to use my education to hopefully help children along their way to a strong future. Maybe if I am fortunate, I can instill in them my love of learning, the beauty of words, they rhythm of mathematics, and the mystery of the future to be figured out by studying the past.” - Foster Grandparent, Brewer

Many Foster Grandparent volunteers agree that, “the program makes me want to get up in the morning. It’s the reason to keep us going instead of sitting at home. Working with children is very rewarding.”

Foster Grandparents volunteer under the supervision of a teacher/supervisor who designs the activities for them to complete with the children. It could be reading, completing a craft or mathematics. No prior experience in teaching is required; however, a love for children and a commitment to a regular schedule each week are necessary.

Foster Grandparents receive monthly training and are part of a national program which promotes emotional development and literacy in youth. FGP’s are “professional” volunteers with completed background checks.

The schools pay nothing to have Foster Grandparents assigned to their classrooms, but if they can they contribute to help maintain the program and may provide a lunch each day when Grandparents are serving.

The program is designed for individuals (men and women) who live at $25, 5250 income level or below, or a couple at $34,480 income level or below and are willing to serve a minimum fifteen hour per week schedule. Foster Grandparents receive a non-taxable hourly stipend to compensate for their time which does not count against other benefits. For those who do not drive we help coordinate transportation, if funds allow. If you transport yourself we provide mileage from your home to the school/site.

We welcome men and women who are interested in sharing their experience with children to contact our office for an application. There are so many children who will welcome the opportunity to warm your heart.

Mary-Anne Saxl is the coordinator of the Foster Grandparents program in Piscataquis County. Email - msaxl@penquis.org - Call - 973-361. Impact on Maine Communities: The Foster Grandparent Program is sponsored by Penquis in 14 of Maine’s 16 counties. In 2018/2019, 69 Penquis Foster Grandparents served at 68 sites, contributing 60,130 hours of service to support the individual needs of 222 children and provide mentoring for more than 1,483 children. With assistance provided by Foster Grandparents:

  • Elementary school children demonstrate improvement in a number of areas, including academic performance, self-esteem and self-confidence;

  • Preschool and day care children demonstrate improvement in such areas as school readiness, cognitive skills, self-confidence, social skills and classroom behavior.


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