National Grandparents Day is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day. This year, it falls on September 12. We are taking the opportunity to recognize some very special volunteers in Fresno EOC Foster Grandparent Program.
The program currently has 60 volunteers ranging in age from 60 to 91 years of age, affectionately referred to as grandma or grandpa. They provide mentoring and emotional support to underserved infants, children, and teens throughout Fresno County.
Program Coordinator Leah Struck said, “These seniors thrive on giving back and helping the kids. This program is really a Win, Win, Win situation. The students win by having the extra attention, the schools win by having the grandparent in the classroom to support the students and the grandparents win by feeling as if they have a purpose and can still make a difference. They have missed their volunteering so much during COVID and they are really hoping that in- person volunteering will happen again this year.”
Senior volunteers typically report to local schools, Head Start 0 to 5 locations, Boys and Girls clubs, early childhood learning centers and emergency shelters to promote literacy and academic success as well as fostering social-emotional and cognitive-behavioral development. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created the need for these volunteers to learn new ways to connect with local youth.
The Foster Grandparent Program ordered laptop computers in November to allow its volunteer grandparents to connect virtually. With that, these dedicated seniors became students once again. 31 volunteers graduated from the computer training program on April 28.
“They showed the literal meaning of life-long learners,” Struck said. Computer learning was a big challenge for those who had never even used a smart phone much less a computer or Zoom. They met the challenge with determination. Even though it was a huge frustration to even learn how to use the password to log into the computer, they did not give up! And now, some grandmas are teaching the trainings themselves!”
Grandparents are making their way back to schools, as state and local officials allow for their safe return. Two grandmas are on Zoom with students from Fresno City College’s Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) guiding them with computer and horticulture skills. Three grandparents are mentoring 3rd and 4th grade students in-person at Tilley Elementary in Central Unified. And yet another Foster Grandparent is mentoring students in-person through the Local Conservation Corps’ YouthBuild Charter High School.
Struck says she is hoping and planning for more than 20 grandparents to re-join Head Start classrooms soon, barring any complications due to the pandemic. Remaining grandparents will work from home helping their teachers put together classroom materials. Other volunteer sites remain on hold.
We would like to celebrate our Foster Grandparent Program volunteers for their heart to give to students and determination to be adaptable and to thank them for just “hanging in there” during this strange time. If you would like share in recognizing these amazing grandparents with an appreciation note or card in honor of National Grandparents Day, you can send it to:
Fresno EOC Foster Grandparent Program
1805 California Ave.
Fresno, CA 93706
or email: FGP@fresnoeoc.org
Here is your reminder to reach out to your own grandparents with a call or a card! If you would like more ideas, scroll down for a link to some fun activities you can share with your special people.
CONTACT INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
Sunday-September 12 National Grandparents Day
Grandparents Day Planning & Activity Guide
Fresno EOC Foster Grandparent Program
Fresno City College, Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS)