Foster Grandparent Program
The Foster Grandparent Program pairs low-income adults aged 55 and older with a child in Jefferson County who may be falling behind or is considered “at risk.” The Foster Grandparent serves as a role model, mentor, tutor and friend and provides a positive influence for the child. In addition, volunteers who meet the eligibility requirements are provided a stipend for their work. Why should you become a Foster Grandparent? Here’s just a few reasons why:
- You gain satisfaction from helping a child who needs some extra attention.
- You gain health benefits from being active and engaged.
- You will receive monthly training and information that can be used to enhance your volunteer experience in the classroom.
- You will develop new skills.
- You will be recognized twice a year for your service.
- Your monthly tax-free stipend does not interfere with other benefits and is not counted as income.
- You will receive mileage and meal reimbursement.
- But best of all, yYou will no longer be lonely!
A Winning Partnership
In 2019, our 76 Foster Grandparent volunteers served 170 children at 33 stations, both at schools and daycares. In return, our volunteers receive access to our Geriatric Social Services (GSS) and our senior center at Hawkins Recreation Center. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Foster Grandparent Spotlight
Grandma Mimi Makes a Difference
Shirley Means, Foster Grandparent Volunteer
From the time she was in high school, others around Shirley Means saw her potential to be a teacher. “No one in my family had ever gone to college, so I didn’t understand at the time how important it was for me to further my education,” she says. Shirley already had her first son, Eric, but she didn’t let that didn’t stop her from graduating from A.H. Parker High School and going on to Southern Junior College of Business. “I realized it was hard to find a job without any experience, so I learned typing, data entry and key punch automation,” she explains.
Once again, life had other designs for Shirley’s future. The first job she got after business school was not in data entry, but at a daycare center, where the owner pleaded with her to go to college and become a teacher. “I was married and needed funds, so college just wasn’t in the cards for me at the time,” she reminisces.
After leaving the daycare, Shirley spent the rest of her career working in a variety of insurance and medical jobs until her retirement from St. Vincent’s. While she was contemplating what was going to happen next, her daughter-in-law called her to tell her about the Foster Grandparent Program. Knowing it was exactly what she needed, Shirley happily called Positive Maturity and learned more about volunteering.
“I have learned that God will give you the desires of your heart if you are faithful, and I have always wanted to teach and work with children,” she says. “Finally the timing was right.”
For the past year, Shirley has spent five days a week at Robinson Elementary in Fairfield, Ala., volunteering in two different second grade classrooms. A Foster Grandparent gets to set their own hours, so Shirley is there every day between 7:30 and 3:00, doing whatever is needed to help out the teachers. Known as Grandma Mimi, she spends her days helping those students who need a little extra time and attention to do their classwork and helps them focus on the tasks at hand. “Sometimes children just need someone to depend upon and who will be there to support them,” she says. “These kids need to know someone cares.”
Even outside of school, Grandmama Mimi is available if a child needs to talk to her. “One mother called me and asked if I would talk to her son at home,” she says. “He has a lot of siblings and just needs attention and I’m happy to give it to him.”
Grandmama Mimi won the Grandparent of the Month award at the school for March, something she is extremely proud of. “This program has touched my heart beyond belief,” Shirley says. “It makes me feel good to know I’m helping someone.”