This year, during the week of May 7-11, we take the time to celebrate Senior Corps Week. Did you know that more than 300,000 older adults serve as Senior Corps volunteers in communities across the country through Foster Grandparents, RSVP, and Senior Companion programs? Senior Corps helps train older adults to become mentors, coaches or companions to people in need. Senior Corps also offers older adults the opportunity to apply their job skills and expertise to community projects and organizations.
The Foster Grandparent Program is a successful intergenerational program that connects volunteers who are 55+ to be mentors and help support children and youth that have exceptional needs. Here’s a Foster Grandparent success story featured on the Senior Corps website:
Shirley Holte kept busy working as a pharmacy assistant, repairing antique dolls, and caring for her husband, an Alzheimer’s patient, until a friend suggested that she sign on a Foster Grandparent four years ago. Now she wonders why more people don’t take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with children like the kindergartners in Boone, Iowa, the farming community where Holte has spent her entire life. Each morning as she steps off the bus that brings her to the school that she herself attended, Holte braces herself for the onslaught of hugs proffered by the children in her charge. During the day, she works with the children one-on-one or in small groups, helping them with their reading and listening to their problems. Once, when a child warned her that she wouldn’t like him because both his parents are in prison, Holte reassured him, “I like everybody.” Her secret for handling the children is simple: “I just consider them my grandkids,” said Holte, who is soon to be a great-grandmother for the third time. Although she finds the problems some of the children experience heart-breaking, Holte keeps doing it because, “It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and get going.”
-Shirley Holte, Iowa
Senior Corps volunteers are truly making a difference for individuals of every age. We encourage you to celebrate the contributions these volunteers make through service in their communities each and every day. Interested in finding information on local volunteer opportunities with Seniors Corps? Visit www.SeniorCorps.gov.