Foster grandparents needed for program with NAU Civic Service Institute
Updated as of Tuesday, September 3, 2019 6:05 AM
KINGMAN - The Civic Service Institute at Northern Arizona University is looking for volunteers age 55 years and older, to become “Foster Grandparents” to share their love and life’s wisdom with children in Mohave County who need guidance and support.
Foster grandparents volunteer with children in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as teen moms and their children. The program works in conjunction with numerous programs and school districts, including Kingman Unified School District, the Club for YOUth, the Blended Learning Center, Head Start classrooms and the Golden Valley Events Center.
In all cases, the children served by the Foster Grandparents Program are ones who would most benefit from the extra attention a Foster Grandparent volunteer can provide.
That could mean helping a preschooler master important social skills, such as listening, sharing and making friends. For older children, it could be spending extra time on reading comprehension, math drills, or helping them catch up on missed assignments.
The program is part of Senior Corps, its a win-win for both children and volunteers, according to FGP Mohave Program Coordinator Heather Brassil.
“Our volunteers really enjoy helping these kids,” Brassil said. “They really love seeing the children they work with have those ‘aha’ moments and knowing that their volunteering made the difference. Plus, it keeps our volunteers active and engaged in their community.”
A study released earlier this year showed that after two years of service, first-time Foster Grandparents reported improvements in health, decreased depression and less social isolation. The program, they said, provides opportunities for personal growth, a chance to make new friends and a sense of accomplishment.
Anita McKenzie-White, who volunteers to help first graders, the reward comes when she sparks an interest in learning,
“I had a little boy who just refused to read,” she said. “He kept asking, ‘Do I have to do this?’ and I’d tell him, ‘Yes, you do.’ Now he’s doing better and all he wants to do is show me how well he’s reading. I love seeing when they turn it around and knowing I’m a part of the team that helped these kids do better.”
Those interested in volunteering with FGP need to be at least 55 years old, meet income guidelines as established by the federal government, and be able to dedicate at least 10 hours a week to the program.
Currently, the program is active in Kingman and Golden Valley, but Brassil said the Civic Service Institute has gotten requests to expand the program into Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City and needs volunteers there as well.
Volunteers receive extensive training before they begin working with children, including guidance on children’s behaviors, setting boundaries and even defensive driving, as they have to commute to the school sites. Volunteers are placed in the site closest to their homes, typically no further than 10 miles away. The training also includes shadowing with current volunteers.
In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, volunteers receive a tax-free stipend of $2.65 per hour, reimbursement for mileage, and supplemental insurance coverage while volunteering.
NAU’s Civic Service Institute also runs the Senior Companion Program in Mohave County, another volunteer opportunity in the region for those age 55 or older. To learn more about volunteering with Senior Corps, please call 866-856-3017 or 928-715-2200.
Information provided by Northern Arizona University Civic Service Institute.