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East Fresno Kiwanis donated $1,000 to the Fresno EOC Foster Grandparent program to support their work with Head Start 0 – 5. Other years the group has been gracious enough to host dinners for Foster Grandparents. However, this year, the East Fresno Kiwanis gave back to support projects such as “Story time with Grandparents,” an activity where Foster Grandparents read stories to Head Start 0 – 5 children through Zoom.

“We are beyond thankful for this donation,” said Leah Struck, Foster Grandparents Program Coordinator. “This will support the work we are doing virtually, especially during this challenging time of distance learning.”

Foster Grandparents are seniors 55 years or older who mentor and support underserved infants, children, and teens while promoting literacy and academic success. Although participants are not able to volunteer in the classroom anymore, they are excited to engage with students on Zoom calls. Reading virtually allows Foster Grandparents to serve their community while social distancing and in the comfort of their own home.

“What Foster Grandparents does fits exactly into what Kiwanis is all about,” said Patrick Balakian, Former President and member of East Fresno Kiwanis. “Kiwanis is dedicated to improving the world one child and community at a time. Over the years, I’ve been a big supporter of Foster Grandparents because the work we do aligns with Foster Grandparents.”

During the year, East Fresno Kiwanis gives back to other organizations and community initiatives, provides scholarships, hosts a Special Olympics, and supports the local elementary, middle, high school, and college affiliate groups. “Everything we do, even fundraisers, is for the benefit of our community,” Balakian said.

With this donation, the Foster Grandparents program can gift three months’ worth of books to four Head Start 0 – 5 classrooms, and children are able to keep their books. Grandparents are already supporting these classrooms by volunteering and receive a stipend for their time volunteering.

“It’s wonderful to see community groups like the East Fresno Kiwanis support us during the pandemic,” Struck said. “With donations like these, we can find innovative ways to keep our Foster Grandparents involved with Head Start 0 – 5 children.”

Fresno EOC Foster Grandparents would like to expand “Story time with Grandparents” to other classrooms. With a donation of $60, the program can purchase ten age-appropriate books for a classroom, where a Foster Grandparent is already serving. If you would like to donate to Fresno EOC Foster Grandparents, click here.


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