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.
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
- 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
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
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
- Allows her to get extra money
(but not the main reason she volunteers).
- Permits her to leave her
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
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
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]hotmail.com
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