Foster Grandpartents: Enriching lives while improving literacy

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s the season for holiday parties and this one is a celebration for a special group of seniors. They volunteer as foster grandparents for Porter Leath.

“For me when they run to me and say Grandma that’s so rewarding.”

Mrs. Ada McNeal has been a foster grandparent for 22 years. Each week 109 seniors like Ms. McNeal spend 25 to 30 hours a week with students in classrooms.

They serve in our community working with our children to bring up literacy education skills.

Judith Rautine has been connecting students and foster grandparents for over two decades. She says the program is valuable to both seniors and children.

“A lot of times a teacher cannot give that extra one-on-one attention and a foster grandparent can.”

The foster grandparents receive a stipend for their time.

“It also makes the difference sometimes between medication and no medication, food and no food. or some like to travel with the little extra money that they earn.”

Foster grandparents read to and with the students. They help them with their numbers. Really anything a student needs a little extra time learning.

“It starts at home, but if they don’t get it at home they have to get somewhere so I don’t mind. I love it.”

The grandparents also provide a listening ear.

“Seniors that aren’t judgemental, they just listen and encourage, give praise as needed. It’s a win-win for the grandparents and the children.”

The seniors partner with the teachers. They’re a support system for the schools and day cares where they work.

“I would encourage all seniors that don’t have anything else to do. It’s a great way to start giving your time.”

Time that will enrich the lives of children and the seniors.

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