SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Fostergrandparents Needed To Share Wisdom With Children
By Marie L. Monyak


March 22, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - If you are a senior, 60 years or older and would like to share your wisdom and experience with children or young people right here in Ketchikan, the Foster Grandparents program is for you.

Facilitated by Alaska Community Services located on Water Street just upstairs from the Senior Center, the Foster Grandparents Program is a branch of the National Senior Service Corps that values the experience, talent and wisdom of our older citizens.

jpg fostergrandparent Dorothy Coady

Fostergrandparent Dorothy Coady.
Next to Coady is Pastor John Judson.
Photo courtesty Foster Grandparents Program

Once retired many seniors find themselves with extra time every day that they may fill with mundane choirs or doing nothing at all, suddenly feeling alone. The Foster Grandparents program not only allows the senior to contribute their valuable time to children in need but to have a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Whether you're tutoring a young child in reading, nurturing a sick child or counseling older kids, you walk away knowing that you're a contributing member of society, using your life skills to improve the lives of children that may otherwise not have a mentoring adult in their life.

As a Foster Grandparent, you'll receive a modest tax-free stipend based on the hours you volunteer. Time is flexible based on your personal schedule as long as you can contribute a minimum of 2 hours a week or as much as 30 hours. Taking time off for a vacation, appointments or any other reason is never a problem. You'll receive reimbursement for meals if you volunteer over 4 hours in a day and transportation is also reimbursed if you use your own vehicle or public transportation.

Supplemental insurance and an annual physical exam are provided at no cost to all volunteers. Foster Grandparents will receive a paid pre-service orientation so they have some direction before beginning the program and monthly training is also provided.

What the children receive is individual attention that they may not receive at home. Whether teaching them skills or just listening to them, the children gain confidence from your faith in them.

The local Foster Grandparents Program is just waiting for senior volunteers to assist in various ways. Those schools and facilities that have asked for volunteers are listed here;

  • Saxman Headstart,
  • Fawn Mountain Elementary,
  • Gateway Christian School,
  • Ketchikan Charter School,
  • Tongass School of Arts and Science,
  • Ketchikan Boys and Girls Club
  • Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility

Gretchen Klein, Programs Coordinator will work with each individual volunteer to access where they would best fit, whether it be with toddlers, young children or older kids. Volunteers can decide for themselves which age group they feel would suit them best.

Think of the toddler whose parents, for whatever reason, may not be able to devote time to their child, inhibiting healthy development. Then there's the young child struggling to learn basic reading and writing. There may be a troubled child that just need a shoulder to lean on or an older child that has been in trouble and needs direction to get his life back on track.

All of these children exist right here in our community and are just waiting for you to help. Think how rewarding it would be to know that the child you helped learn to read just made the honor role. How would you feel the first time a young child hugs you, looks in your eyes and say "thank you."

Foster Grandparents can take part in events and activities like last months Valentine party, Ice Cream Socials, or the upcoming Easter Egg Hunt at the Plaza Mall. Crafting events like last months bird feeder project provides activities and fun for young and old alike.

When some of our local volunteers were asked why they volunteer and what they like about volunteering this is what they had to say.

Mrs L. said:

  • Likes to assist others.
  • Is fond of being busy.
  • Finds satisfaction in giving hugs to those that need them.
  • Fills the place of loneliness that comes from living alone and far from family.

Mrs. P. said:

  • Gives her exercise.
  • Gives her a sense of being needed.
  • Allows her to get extra money (but not the main reason she volunteers).
  • Permits her to leave her home.

Mrs. D. said:

  • Loves working with kids and helping to meet their needs.
  • Her most important times are when she helps kids with reading and working on simple projects.

Alaska Senior Services is federally funded and they're a United Way agency. They receive no monies from the City or Borough of Ketchikan. Programs Coordinator Klein asks that all seniors volunteer directly through the program by contacting her. She is always happy to help with the initial paperwork and getting seniors started on their way to a rewarding and fulfilling volunteer position.

Because the volunteer will be working with children naturally they will be required to complete an application and submit to a background check to ensure the safety of all concerned. A physical and TB test will be provided at no cost. Klein is available to assist with setting the appointments and completing the necessary paperwork.

If you can volunteer one or more days a week and would like to make a difference in the life of a child, or if you just need more information please call Gretchen Klein, Programs Coordinator at 617-4685.

On the Web:

Marie L. Monyak is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
A freelance writer is an uncommitted independent writer
who produces and sells articles to a publisher such as SitNews.
Contact Marie at mlmx1[at]

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