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Senior Corps Week 2017

What a week! If you missed anything from this year's Senior Corps Week, visit us on Facebook or our Tumblr blog. And to all of our amazing volunteers who are making an impact in our communities, a big thank you for another great year of service!

The Impact of Senior Corps by State:

 

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The Impact of Senior Corps

Senior Corps works in countless ways to make communities stronger. Throughout the country, Foster Grandparents are mentoring and tutoring students, Senior Companions are helping frail elderly remain in their own homes, and RSVP programs are providing services such as disaster relief, caring for the environment, supporting veterans and military families, and providing tax preparation services to low-income and elderly individuals.




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Senior Corps Fast Facts

  • 245,000

    Senior Corps Volunteers
  • 74.6 Million

    Hours Served by Senior Corps volunteers
  • 28,100

    Unique sites that Senior Corps volunteers served last year

 

 

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Senior Corps Stories

“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.” Senior Corps volunteers come from every corner of the country and all walks of life. Adults 55 and older are supporting organizations and giving back to their communities. Here's just a handful of stories of our proud Senior Corps volunteers.

Image Grandama Xuan
Grandama Xuan
Foster Grandparent Program 2016
After over three years of volunteering in Rainbows’ pre-K classroom Foster Grandma Xuan, a native of Vietnam, describes her experience as “happy”.
She truly enjoys coming in on a regular basis and interacting with the kids, she finds them fun to work with.
 
“Grandma Xuan is young at heart” said lead teacher Annabel Bentley; “when we went to the pumpkin patch in October Grandma rode the tricycles with the kids, they loved it!” It’s that fun loving attitude that allows Grandma Xuan to come to Rainbows day in and day out.
 
“We love having the grandparent generation in our classrooms,” said Holly Howell, Kid’s Point Site Coordinator. “They add the multigenerational aspect, wisdom and experience that only grandparents can give”. The kid’s love having Grandma Xuan in their classroom.
 
Through a partnership with Catholic Charities The Foster Grandparent program allows retired individuals to interact with children who have special or exceptional needs in a meaningful way. Through the Foster Grandparents program Grandma Xuan has been donating her time and energy to Rainbows since September 2010.
 
Image of Granny Audrey
Granny Audrey
Foster Grandparent Program 2016

Volunteer Heart: Foster Grandparents

Even at just six years old, Maynard Elementary kindergartners recognize how important a grandparent can be.

"I love you, Granny," one student told his "Granny Audrey."
 
"They call me Granny. Granny Audrey, but mostly granny. I am Granny so I love it!" said Audrey Sharp Monroe.
 
Technically, Monroe is not the children's biological grandmother. She has four grandkids of her own.
 
"They're teenagers now, young adults, so they don't mind the competition," she said.
 
But Maynard Elementary students don't get caught up in technicalities.  They give her hugs and words of praise just like she was their own.
 
"She's here for kids. She's just a good grandmother," said Maynard Elementary principal Kim Cullom.
 
Monroe spent 20 years working with children before she retired. She ran her day care for many of those.
 
"It really was just a few months and I decided I needed something to keep me occupied and what better to do than volunteer," she said.
 
She now donates 40 hours a week in the classroom.
 
"When we have Granny we can do a lot more independent work, a lot more skill based, specific things that we just can't do in large groups. It's great to have granny here," said kindergarten teacher Christine Rhodes.
 
"I see her in the hallway. She's reviewing letters and sounds, the kids just truly love working with her. They need her," said Cullom.
 
When she talks, the kids listen.
 
And at the end of the day, it's not about the lessons she taught them. It's about the feeling she leaves them with, that only a grandmother can give.
 
"I get just as much out of it as the children because they bring so much love. And that's everything," Monroe said.
 
The foster grandparent program is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year in Knoxville.
 
For more information, contact Knox County's Office on Aging.
 
View story here
 
Image of Granny Audrey
The Crossroads Center
The Crossroads Center
RSVP and Foster Grandparent Program 2016

The Crossroads Center (St. Cloud, MN) food court was bustling with excitement and enthusiasm Saturday morning as the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Catholic Charities Central Minnesota Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) co-hosted a fundraiser “Move the Mall Walk for Volunteerism”. The fundraiser promoted health and volunteerism amongst all ages.

Nearly 90 individuals supported the event! $5,690 was raised through walker registration, sponsorships and vendor booth fees to support the two programs who are both proud members of the National Senior Corps. The funds raised at the event will be spent on implementation of RSVP and FGP; programs boasting of the positive impact their volunteers create throughout Central Minnesota every day!

For the past 43 years, The Greater St. Cloud Area RSVP (Lisa J. Braun, Director) has been matching volunteers, age 55 or better, with volunteer opportunities to address local community needs in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns Counties. In 2015, 1,206 volunteers served 154,920 hours at 183 local non-profits, government agencies and licensed health care facilities. Using the Independent Sector value of volunteer time, those hours amount to $3,574,004 in value given back to the community.

Catholic Charities Central Minnesota Foster Grandparent Program (Stacy Lund, Director) has proudly served the 16 counties of the Diocese of St. Cloud for 50 years. Foster Grandparents are 55 and older, living on limited incomes, and commit to a minimum of 15 hours a week of service and receive a tax-free stipend of $2.65 per hour and mileage reimbursement. They provide one-on-one attention to children most at risk in schools, shelters, correctional facilities and early childhood centers. Volunteers help improve reading and math skills, behavior, and the well-being of children in their care. In 2015, 200 Foster Grandparents provided 128,769 hours of service assisting 7,614 children with academic, behavioral and emotional growth.

RSVP Director, Lisa J. Braun said of the walk, “This was a wonderful opportunity to gather volunteers from both programs together and raise funds, but most importantly to demonstrate that volunteerism and walking both are keys to a longer, healthier life. We are so proud of our volunteers and all their contributions to the community and applaud them for improving their health while giving back to the community.”

City of St Cloud Mayor, Dave Kleis, spoke during the opening ceremony of the walk and echoed the importance and value of senior volunteers throughout our community. Two volunteers, one from RSVP and one from FGP, each also delivered heart felt speeches during the opening ceremony proclaiming the significance and appreciation for the Senior Corps programs. The volunteers also explained the impact their service to the community has had on their lives.

RSVP and FGP would like to thank all participants and contributors for your generosity at this event. If you are interested in learning about the various volunteer opportunities through RSVP please visit their website at www.ci.stcloud.mn.us/RSVP. If you are interested in getting involved and volunteering with children through FGP please visit their website at: www.ccstcloud.org/fgp.

Photo: City of St Cloud Mayor, Dave Kleis, addresses supporters at the Move the Mall Walk for Volunteerism on Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 during the opening ceremony at Crossroads Center. 

Image of RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse
RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse
RSVP 2016
#SeniorCorpsWorks: Serving Veterans - RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse
 
By CNCS Connecticut State Office
 
Senior Corps’ RSVP Thames Valley Council for Community Action project hosts a weekly RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse.  The RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse offers a venue for veterans to socialize while offering them information on benefits available to veterans and their families. Regular attendees include representatives of the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Fund and the Veterans Service Office of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
The program has proven so popular and effective that U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal now wants to hold similar gatherings across the state. With the help of RSVP coordinator and veteran Greg Kline, TVCCA launched the initiative last April in Killingly to provide a meeting place for veterans in Connecticut’s rural northeastern corner.
 
Through connections made at the coffeehouse, several veterans have been able to gain access to additional services and benefits for which they were eligible. Two veterans were awarded full disability for Agent Orange complications. A 92-year-old veteran received two new hearing aids at no charge.  Eight veterans began receiving housing, energy, medical and food assistance through the Soldiers, Sailors & Marines Fund. Other veterans are gaining access to health care through the VA as a result of coffeehouse connections.    
 
The informal coffeehouse setting encourages communication and fosters connections to create a social support network for veterans, who can gather to share common experiences.  For Edgar Muniz, a vet who served with the Marines in the 1960s & 70s, going to the coffee house provides a chance to connect with people who have a shared experience, “Even though people are going through different situations, you can appreciate one another. A vet might feel more secure about talking (to another veteran). Some (vets) don’t want to talk with people who have never been in their shoes.”
 
The coffeehouse has also proven popular with elected officials. Several local mayors and first selectmen attended the coffeehouse ribbon cutting in September. In early November, 60 veterans were joined by Congressman Joe Courtney and 100 other individuals at a Veteran Corps pinning ceremony at an auditorium in the same building where the coffeehouse is held. Congressman Courtney was joined at the pinning ceremony by two state senators. Later in November, Senator Richard Blumenthal presented a 99-year-old World War II veteran with medals at the RSVP Veterans Coffeehouse.
 
In March, Congressman Joe Courtney returned to the coffeehouse to present more than a dozen Korean War veterans with long overdue medals. Also in March, Senator Blumenthal hosted a Veterans Coffeehouse in Torrington, Connecticut in hopes of partnering with other RSVP projects to launch veterans’ coffeehouses statewide. In April, several local elected officials helped celebrate the first anniversary of the Killingly coffeehouse. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy sent a letter of congratulations. Veterans’ coffeehouses are currently in the works for Meriden and Pawcatuck.

 

Image of Mikel Herrington
Mikel Herrington
Acting Director of Senior Corps 2016

Will You Be Dancing at 107?

By Mikel Herrington, Acting Director of Senior Corps

In February and March, it was hard to miss the inspiring stories on every television station and media outlet about Ms. Virginia McLaurin, the 106 year old woman who danced with President and Mrs. Obama during Black History Month, played basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters, and celebrated her 107th birthday with an admiring public. We delighted in her joy and vitality.
 
“Grandma Virginia” as we like to call her has been serving her community and the children she loves as a Foster Grandparent (a program of Senior Corps) for more than 20 years. She is the first to say that she has been blessed with a long life.  But when asked what keeps her going, she says, “Service to my community and the kids.”  
 
Grandma says you have to keep moving and that is exactly what she did. Every day, she walked to the school where she served as a Foster Grandparent, and gave kids at that school love, support, and guidance to help them grow and be the best they could be.
 
Grandma Virginia found her passion, and it fueled her service. She is just one of more than 270,000 volunteers who are serving in Senior Corps programs who have also found their passion and the right programs to give back. They are putting their math and science skills to work helping to test water quality and protect the environment; they are helping frail elderly citizens remain in their homes and provide respite for full time caregivers; they are putting gardening skills to work to develop community gardens; and they are helping the next generation be the best students they can through mentoring and tutoring programs. If you want to serve, Senior Corps can help you find the right match.
 
Certainly, most of us won’t live to the ripe old age of 107 no matter what we do. But we can make our own lives better and more enriched at the same time we are doing exactly the same for someone else.  #SeniorCorpsWorks for the individuals who serve as well as our communities.
 
So in honor of Senior Corps Week, May 16 – 20, and Grandma Virginia, keep dancing…..and serving…..become a volunteer.  To find out how visit www.nationalservice.gov/seniorcorps.

 

Image of Al Hodder
Al Hodder
Foster Grandparent Program 2016

Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions: Volunteering with Students and Elders in their Communities

“Expect the unexpected” was the first piece of advice Foster Grandparent, Al Hodder, received as he prepared for his first day volunteering with English language learners at Portland High School. Within minutes of entering the classroom and introducing himself to a room filled with teenage students, a girl rushed over to him to ask for help on a paper. Without having much background on the subject, Hodder dove right in, helping her research, plan and edit her paper. From that moment on he was hooked, enthusiastically anticipating each new day and challenge as a Foster Grandparent.  

Mr. Al, as he is known by his students, volunteers through the Foster Grandparent Program at the Opportunity Alliance in Portland. Foster Grandparents, who are adults that are 55 and older, serve in local schools, Head Start programs or child development centers across York, Cumberland and Southern Oxford counties. They serve for 15-40 hours per week at their site, working under the supervision of a teacher or other staff member.

Unlike Hodder, many Foster Grandparents volunteer with primary school age children, supporting the students as they learn how to read and solve math problems. Hodder’s situation is unique in that he is able to provide not only assistance with paper writing or math classes, but he can be a mentor to students who are navigating the complex world of applying to college. He helps students formulate their personal statements and apply for scholarships. Hodder has become a role model and friend in the classroom, providing crucial academic and social support to students who are new to American culture and the English language. As Hodder’s teacher told him, “I could not run my classroom without your help Al”.

The gratification in volunteering with the Foster Grandparent Program happens every day when Hodder sees his students in the hall or on the streets of Portland. His students run to greet him or excitedly introduce him to their family members. Even though he has only been in the program for a year, he has already seen a few of his students become United States citizens, a huge milestone in the lives of new Americans. For Hodder, he enjoys watching his students progress each and every day.  

In addition to the Foster Grandparent Program, the Opportunity Alliance also sponsors the Senior Companion Program. Senior Companions make independence a reality for socially isolated elders by providing companionship to individuals in their homes or at adult day centers. Senior Companions can assist with grocery shopping, transportation to medical appointments and running other essential errands to support independent living. One Senior Companion, Elizabeth Page, joined the program because she wanted to make sure aging adults could remain part of their communities. To support her clients, she exercises with them, assists with grocery shopping or sings with them. Page describes her time as a volunteer as being a learning experience. She learns so much from her clients, which inspires her to continue volunteering. Volunteering, as she says herself, “makes my hat feel full”.

Income eligible volunteers in both the Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent Programs are able to receive a non-taxable stipend for their volunteer time. In addition, all volunteers receive meal and travel assistance, pre-service and ongoing training and support. To learn more about the Foster Grandparent or Senior Companion Programs, please call 207-773-0202. 

Image of an RSVP volunteer in new york
RSVP Volunteers in New York
RSVP 2016
#SeniorCorpsWorks: RSVP Volunteers Serve Fellow Vets in New York 
 
This video shows how Senior Corps RSVP Veterans Court program provides an opportunity for RSVP veterans to help fellow veterans. 
 
Screen shot of RSVP video
Image of Grandma Mae
Grandma Mae
Foster Grandparent Program 2016
Foster Grandma, Mae’s Story, As told by Mae Mitchell of St. Louis MO (Transcribed 3.30.15 from a phone interview by Aarya Locker)
 
The Foster Grandparent Program gives me purpose and helps me to stay afloat. It gives me pep. I feel like I am giving back to my community. A lot of the children we work with just need a little help to get to the next step in their development. They need a little help keeping them interested in trying to learn.
 
It is a thrill for me every day to walk in and hear their voices say, “Hi Granny Mae!” They come running asking, “Can I work with you today, Granny?” In that room, I am everybody’s grandma. It feels so good.
 
We (the Foster Grandparents) want to help give something back. Our young generation of parents now does not have that extra time to spend with their kids. We do. We fill that gap. This work gives me purpose and a reason to get out of the house.
 
I like to do little extra things like planting gardens and teaching the kids about nature. This year each class had a little plot. My class grew tomatoes. We watched them grow from green to red together. The children were shouting on the playground, “Look what we grew!”
 
We, as Grandparents get a lot out of this. The kids make me laugh. It’s true, laughter is the best medicine. I’m 75, this keeps me going. It helps us. The little bit of extra money has helped fill in when I didn’t have enough money with my social security each month. I don’t know what else I would do. I’d give the world for this. I look forward to it every day.
 
Image of Jim McBride
Jim McBride
RSVP 2016

Reblog via | Hannibal Courier Post

After his wife recommended he take a break from retirement, a Hannibal man quickly found his niche in a program that touches thousands of lives in Northeast Missouri.

Jim McBride joined the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program as site coordinator about six years ago, after that suggestion from his wife, Jean McBride. In five locations throughout a five-county region, McBride personally reviews each tax form before they head off to the Internal Revenue Service or Missouri Department of Revenue. McBride is among 34 Missourians set to receive the 2016 Senior Service award for volunteer work from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, during a banquet Wednesday, May 4, at the State Capitol. He said he felt “humbled” by the award, and quickly offered warm commendations for the two other finalists nominated by Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Director Stacey Nicholas — Kathy Corum and Ron Walden — and the dedicated team of 19 volunteers and staff members working together toward a common goal of giving back to their communities.
 
Strong guidance during explosive growth
 
So far, VITA program participants are set to receive a total of $900,000 in refunds and processing fees they would normally pay — at a minimum of $140, Nicholas said. Teams of volunteers prepare taxes free of charge for individuals and families who earn less than $62,000, through a partnership between Douglass Community Services, the United Way of the Mark Twain Area, University of Missouri Extension and the Internal Revenue Service.
As of Thursday, April 7, 739 tax forms were completed or being processed, compared to 555 tax returns form 2014, Mark Twain United Way Executive Director Frank Di Tillo said. For the 2015 tax season, McBride will have touched about 1,800 lives in the area, based on average household size figures and the soaring number of returns so far, Di Tillo said.
 
“I was amazed how many new people we had this time,” McBride said.
McBride said more volunteers would be needed for next year. He recommended contacting the United Way of the Mark Twain Area, at (573)221-2761.
 
Throughout the week, McBride travels to VITA locations in Hannibal, Monroe City, Shelbina, Palmyra and Canton. When he first started as site coordinator, he spent an entire day reviewing tax returns with help. Today, McBride often reviews the tax return as the preparer works on the computer or within an hour. McBride said he and all of the volunteers loved to help and see the impact that the service made on people's lives.
 
“I know they all enjoy helping people,” he said.
Expressions of gratitude from participants served as highlights for every member of the VITA team.
 
“It's when people thank you,” McBride said. “They truly appreciate it.”
After a successful career in healthcare administration, McBride found similarities in his current role.
 
Before coming to Hannibal in 1986, McBride served as regional director or corporate director at a series of healthcare facilities across the country — including Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan. During those years, McBride took the helm to make sure things were running smoothly.
 
The opportunity to work with so many people over the years prepared McBride for warm interactions with volunteers and participants during VITA.
 
McBride started working with Nicholas at Douglass Community Center during the flood of 2008, helping secure block grant funds for Missouri households affected by the disaster. He is a member of RSVP, too. He applied for the job of site coordinator after the block effort work.
 
McBride said he was grateful for the assistance he received from Nicholas, Di Tillo, Stephanie Cooper, Executive Director of Douglass Community Services, and Andrew Zumwalt from the University of Missouri Extension Office.
 
McBride's colleagues had kind words to share, too.
 
Nicholas said the volunteers were dedicated to their jobs, and they all liked working with McBride. Also, McBride troubleshoots all of the technology, researches IRS details and constantly comes up with solutions — “keeping people happy” during situations like a recent crash of the IRS software.
Di Tillo said McBride was “extremely conscientious” with his job and he helps people stay in their comfort zones. Di Tillo also said he enjoyed the knowledge McBride shared.
 
“He always leaves me a little smarter,” Di Tillo said.
 
A happy future
 
Jim McBride and Jean McBride will celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. He said he appreciated the encouragement she provided him to serve the community. They have three children and three grandchildren.
As the award banquet drew closer, McBride said he felt excited about the honor.
 
'I appreciate it. I'm humbled by it,” McBride said.
 
But he was quick to offer thanks to the people he worked each week.
 
“Still, the heavy lifting is done by volunteers.”
 
Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com
Image of Governor Mead
Governor Mead
2016

#SeniorCorpsWorks: Governor Mead Reads Proclamation to Senior Corps 

By: Amy Busch

Today the Wyoming State Museum hosted a Senior Corps Week proclamation signing event by Governor Matt Mead. More than 40 Senior Corps volunteers gathered on behalf of Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and RSVP Volunteers across Wyoming for this special Senior Corps Week event! Governor Mead heard from volunteers from all three programs sharing their stories of service. #SeniorCorpsWorks #IamSeniorCorps!!

View blog here

 

Image of Fred Meek
Fred Meek
RSVP 2016
Lead. Inspire. Change the world.
You can use your life experience and knowledge to help shape your community— join RSVP. The program is America’s largest volunteer network, where you choose where and how you want to help.
 
"I've contributed and someone's benefitted from my time. And I'm doing my part to make the community and the state of the world a better place." - Fred Meek, RSVP Volunteer
 
Our RSVP volunteers change lives for the better
 
They do a variety of different kinds of work in their communities, including:
  • providing food for the homeless and hungry
  • helping local law enforcement make communities safer
  • changing lives by mentoring and tutoring young people
  • assisting veterans coming home from service and their families
  • building capacity at local non-profit organizations
The RSVP Program serves the following counties:
  • Coconino
  • Mohave
  • Navajo
  • Yavapai
  • Yuma
  • Santa Cruz
  • Cochise
  • Graham
  • Greenlee

screen shot of vinmo video

View the article here
Image of United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana
United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana
RSVP 2016

#SeniorCorpsWorks: United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana Show they Care

For the past three years, Senior Corps’ United Way RSVP of Northwest Indiana volunteers have collected, sorted, and packaged items to be donated to food pantries, homeless shelters, and women’s shelters. They have also created care packages that were sent to veterans and active military all over the state, county, and overseas. Last year, they collected 15,000 toiletry items that were made into 5,000 care packages.

Image of Arin Quintel
Arin Quintel
Foster Grandparent Program 2016

The Joy of Giving as a Foster Grandparent

by Arin Quintel, Penquis Foster Grandparent

What would anyone want with an eccentric, quirky, creative and wise old “spinster” like me?  I guess they don’t use that word anymore, “spinster”. The word came to mind perhaps because I’m in the middle of reading the full, unabridged edition of Les Miserables, (1862), by Victor Hugo. I haven’t seen the musical yet, and I prefer not to until after I read the book. I’m old enough to have read many classic stories in book form, rather than on “the big screen”.

I love reading. In my semi-retirement, at age 60, I’ve suddenly taken to reading the “classics”. Books I never got to. Not even in college. In the past few years I’ve “finally” read The Count of Monte Cristo, The Grapes of Wrath, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations, among others. Besides reading, I enjoy art and photography, hiking, camping, canoeing, attending adult education classes, and interacting with people of all kinds.

I worked most of my adult life as a graphic designer, with a whole lot of other various jobs in between.  I waitressed, tended bar, cashiered, worked in factories on assembly lines, cleaned offices in an art gallery, worked on a farm and as an aide in group homes, and whatever seemed to be “the calling” of the day, or as needed in between longer periods of employment. I know what it takes to survive even in today's volatile environment. As an artist I learned not only how to “see”, but to see that any human endeavor is an art. Everyone is an artist in their own way.

I’m a lot more settled now, but feel greatly enriched for all the experience and adventures I’ve had in this life. Though I may be and feel rich in experiences and spirit, I am not rich financially, but I have been able to maintain my independence. I have had the chance to do some great volunteer work in the past few years. I never thought I would “retire” anyway. I have a strong “work” ethic. It’s important to me to stay productive and feel alive. I've volunteered at libraries, a local animal shelter, and a couple of years on a farm. Like many of my own age, I just don’t feel complete without being helpful to the world, however small. It also gets me out of myself and keeps me from feeling alone.  My family lives in New Hampshire, so I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like.

When I moved to this area after having lived in Portland, ME most of my adult life, I was looking for an opportunity for some type of part time work or volunteer position. Fortunately I met a new neighbor who had been involved with the Penquis Foster Grandparent Program. She told me how much she enjoyed it and encouraged me to apply. She said “Foster Grandparents work with special needs kids in the local school. It is great for low income people, 55 and older, looking for a way to stay involved and make a difference in the community.” I always wanted to work in education in some capacity and it grabbed my interest. Being on disability and at age 60, it has been difficult to find work that could accommodate my particular disability. This seemed like a great second chance, to work with children in some type of educational capacity.

A week later I sent Maria Staples, Project Coordinator, a letter and a resume and she contacted me immediately. I knew this would be a challenge for me because although I have done a lot of different kinds of work in my life, including teaching art to adults with disabilities, I had never worked with children in this capacity. I decided to work through any fear I had and met with Maria about a month after I initially applied. You do have to pass a complete set of background checks and have a genuine love for children.

I passed the background checks and after completing the orientation I got assigned to the local elementary school, Livermore Elementary, in Livermore, Maine. I am working with three or four kids who need some extra help, with math, reading, writing, and also, some encouragement and moral support. I've only been serving as a Foster Grandparent for a few months and so far I love it! I feel my best asset, especially in working with special needs kids, is to have love and compassion. In some ways also, having had a challenging childhood myself, I could perhaps bring more understanding to these kids. I don’t need to know the details of the kids’ lives. It’s a day to day journey of getting to know them, care about them, and care about their progress. Some of these kids don’t get the individual attention they need, and some don’t “fit” in. I was one of those kids; an outsider. But thankfully, partially because I did apply myself at school, I made it to college and all turned out well.

I volunteer 15 to 20 hours with a third grade class. I love the kids. I love seeing how they grow and learn. It’s very exciting when a child gets an “aha!” moment. I thrive in learning environments and I am learning too.  My favorite part is when I get to tell a child how well I think they did on a project or how well they handled a difficult problem. I love that they like me. They get excited to see me every day and I join the class for lunch and recess. I don’t have to discipline, but it is important for me to model good and appropriate behaviors (and that’s not always easy for us adults, sometimes, too!)  It keeps me healthier, especially mentally and emotionally. While I am with the children I am completely present. I enjoy getting the kids excited about learning. I help with their math and love having them read to me or sometimes I read to them. I help them button their coats and wipe runny noses. My mind stays sharp and focused, my self- esteem has improved and I am also growing emotionally and spiritually. I say to people: “it seems the children do more for me than I for them! But it’s more likely an equal give and take exchange.”

If you are over 55 and low income, this is a great chance to “work”, as a professional volunteer and play an important role in your community. Some of you may have grandchildren in the local schools, and not working, or have a physical disability that keeps you from doing other work. If you love kids and would like to make a difference, please contact Maria Staples or Angela Hobson at the Penquis Foster Grandparent Program, 262 Harlow Street, Bangor, ME  04401, Phone: 800-215-4942, ext. 3684. More information can also be found by visiting www.penquis.org

Image of Grandma Alice Reid
Grandma Alice Reid
Foster Grandparent Program 2016
Have you volunteered 11,341.25 lifetime hours? Foster Grandparent Alice Reid has!
 
Foster Grandparent Alice Reid has been a part of the Foster Grandparent Program since 2004. She is 92 years old and she volunteers an average of 33 hours per week. She works with two children in the 0-5 age range by reading to and with them. Even though she has two students assigned to her, Grandma Alice has a small area in her classroom and is happy to help any student who needs it. She has helped with all the kindergarten classes. Countless students have benefited from Grandma Alice.
 
Grandma Alice is so valued at her workstation that for her 90th birthday, they had a huge celebration – including the entire elementary school. There were more than 400 children involved in her birthday celebration. The students made birthday cards and sang to her. The celebration was in the local newspaper.
 
Grandma Alice also spends her lunch hour in the cafeteria eating with the children. Kindergarten teacher Regina Harshaw said, “We love Grandma Alice and we appreciate all that she does for us. She has been a wonderful part of our school.”
 
Even though Grandma Alice is 92, she doesn’t let much stop her from being with her class. Her workstation will have her for as long as she’s able. She has 11,341.25 lifetime hours with no plans to slow down.
 
The Butler County Foster Grandparent Program appreciates Grandma Alice’s dedication to the children she serves and like her teacher we will have her for as long as she’s able to serve.
 
Image of Tess Scannell
Tess Scannell
Former Director of Senior Corps 2016

A Senior Corps Week Tribute

By: Tess Scannell, former director of Senior Corps 

As we embark upon Senior Corps Week 2016, I am reflecting about the years I served as Director of Senior Corps, a politically-appointed position, from 2001 through 2009.
 
After leaving that position in 2009 and later moving with my husband to Maine, one of my first stops was the University of Maine Center on Aging (UMCOA) where the Director, Dr. Len Kaye generously  gave me the UMCOA “lay of the land.” UMCOA is a big player in education and research in aging throughout the state and sponsors several programs including the Senior Corps RSVP and Senior Companion Programs, and Encore Leaders. 
 
Before long, I found myself engaged with Senior Corps again, now serving as a board member of the RSVP Project of Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington Counties.  I have enjoyed participating in its ongoing transition from “legacy” volunteers at meal sites to outcome-oriented assignments, and now, their efforts to develop signature evidenced-based programs. 
 
All of my fellow board members are active leaders from different groups and businesses in the counties served by the RSVP project. We have worked together to help RSVP increase programming with veterans, early literacy and reading, and a fabulous new STEM effort. I helped start a new “Bone Builders” class in my little town (for my own selfish reasons, I confess.)  Bone Builders is not recognized as an evidenced–based program, some of us are researching ways to strengthen it with a view toward making changes that may qualify it as evidence- based in the future. 
 
I was proud to be part of the Senior Corps, when in 1995, under the leadership of Tom Endres, we launched “Programming for Impact.”  The idea behind “Programming for Impact” was to ensure that Senior Corps programs were implementing programming that resulted in evidence-based impact. Over the last 20 years, I have seen RSVP continue to evolve and remain relevant in hundreds of communities throughout the country.  
 
RSVP volunteers continue to make a real difference in the lives of people of all ages. The key to this ongoing success and relevance of RSVP is, of course, the generosity and commitment of the volunteers but a great debt is also owed to RSVP sponsors like the UMCOA.
Image of a Jumpstart Senior Corps volunteer
Jumpstart Senior Corps Volunteers
2016
#SeniorCorpsWorks: Jumpstart Senior Corps Volunteers Make a Difference
 
Watch this amazing video from Encore to see how Senior Corps Jumpstart volunteers teach children the literary skills they need to succeed in school.  
 
(Source: youtube.com)
 
screen shot of Jumpstart Senior Corps volunteer video
Image of Steve Vradenburg
Steve Vradenburg
Senior Companion 2016
#SeniorCorpsWorks: Senior Companion Vet Helps World War II Vet
 
Steve Vradenburg, a Senior Companion volunteer with Senior Services of Snohomish County, has been paired with his client, Art in Seattle, Washington.  Art is 94 years old and a World War II veteran who lost his sight and a limb during the Battle of Normandy in 1944.  Yet, he still lives independently with the help of his Senior Companion volunteer Steve.  Steve was a combat medic during the Vietnam War and received two Purple Hearts for his service. He helps Art continue to remain independent by grocery shopping, golfing, gardening, and participating in other activities together. Watch this video to see how this pair of veterans still learn things from each other and cherish the time they spend together. 
 
 
screen shot of Senior Companion video
Image of Jim Walker
Steve Walker
Foster Grandparent Program 2016

What if every classroom had a grandparent?

Kids need love. Grandparents are good at giving it.

That’s why an army of them is being recruited by the superintendent of schools in Syracuse, N.Y., where too many students have been getting suspended and too few have been graduating.
 
Soon, a “foster grandparent” will be stationed in every first- and second-grade classroom in all 18 elementary schools in the city. Superintendent Sharon Contreras is hoping the volunteers will enable more kids to build “a positive connection with an adult in the school building,” which will in turn improve their attendance, behavior, and grades.
 
The national foster grandparent program, which is overseen and funded by the federal government, matches volunteers ages 55 and over with children who need a mentor, a tutor, or both. There have been foster grandparents in the Syracuse elementary schools for decades, but, until recently, their ranks were thin, as in most school systems.
 
So far, about 115 out of 131 first- and second-grade classrooms have been staffed, according to Beth O’Hara, the director of senior services for Peace Inc., which operates the foster grandparent program in Syracuse and is working with Contreras to expand its presence in the city’s schools.
 
Volunteers—who needn’t actually be grandparents, but who are usually called Grandma or Grandpa by the kids they’re working with—commit to spending at least 15 hours a week in the classroom to which they’re assigned, and they’re asked to serve for at least a year.
 
Though they receive a small stipend, “they’re not doing it for $53 a week,” O’Hara says. “They’re doing it because they want to make a difference.”
 
Steve Walker, 63, a retired pastor, is volunteering at Dr. King Elementary School under second-grade teacher Caitlin Melvin, and he helps out however she needs him to, he says. Often, that means keeping the kids in order so she can stay focused on instructing them.
 
“I say, ‘We’re called Team Melvin.’ [And] I’ve convinced them that when they mess up, they affect the whole team. So … if two or three of them mess up I say, ‘Guess what? Y’all messed it up for the whole team. So you guys don’t get recess.’”
 
But he always gives them a chance to earn it back, he says, and his first priority is to “show them love.”
 
“Because I know at home, a lot of them aren’t getting any love; they’re not receiving love. Some of them come to school so mad, so frustrated, and so angry. So when I see them I say ‘Good morning’ to them. I’ve taught them [that] when they walk in the classroom, as soon as they open the door, they are obligated to say ‘Good morning.’ So if they don’t, I make them go back out the door and come back in and say ‘Good morning.’”
 
Ann Calderone, 65, a retired library clerk who assists in a first-grade classroom at LeMoyne Elementary School, spent much of the fall providing one-on-one support to a recent immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The little girl couldn’t speak English well enough to work independently, and the teacher had 24 other kids to worry about, so “Granny Annie” sat with her for weeks and helped her along.
 
About 20,000 students attend the Syracuse public schools, about 80 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Roughly 20 percent receive special education services, and about 10 percent are refugees. The high school graduation rate is only about 60 percent.
 
O’Hara and her staff at Peace Inc. are in charge of recruiting, screening, training, and placing the volunteers, who then report directly to teachers.
 
The federal government is providing $400,000 annually for the expanded program, and the Syracuse Board of Education is kicking in $350,000 per year.
 
Most of that money goes toward compensating the volunteers, O’Hara says.
 
View article here
Image of Dave Watt
Dave Watt
RSVP 2016

#SeniorCorpsWorks: Dave Watt, Senior Corps Volunteer and Veteran, Keeps Serving

April 14, 2016 was proclaimed Foster Grandparent Dave Watt Day by the mayor and county commissioners of Missoula, Montana. 

The day was set aside to honor Senior Corps volunteer Dave Watt for his unselfish donation of time, energy, and talent to non-profit organizations in the Missoula Area.  
 
Dave retired from the Navy in 2003 and continues to serve his country as a Senior Corps RSVP and Foster Grandparent volunteer. He is called Grandpa Dave by everyone who knows him. He uses simple hands-on math and logic games to motivate kids and is always willing to show people of all ages his talent for building games for that raise learning skills and esteem in children. At 70 years plus young, Dave never stops learning or giving. He has served at the Ronald McDonald House, Franklin Elementary School, the Montanans for Soldiers Project, YMCA, MCAT Summer Youth Camps and has a history of volunteerism with St. Patrick Hospital. David takes pride in teaching about the American flag.  He has spent over 100 hours of service in the classroom this school year showing his devotion to country, community, and children.
Image of the RSVP couple getting married
RSVP Wedding
RSVP 2016
Soul Mates- Found through Volunteering
 
Two RSVP volunteers met at the Harbor Village Warsaw, MO Senior Center while they were volunteering. A friendship developed and a romance was started between Terry Terflinger and Le Saupe, which brings us to their wedding four months later on a bright, Tuesday morning, in July. Both Terry and Le found that they shared an interest in serving their community, and enjoyed family and friends. When questioned, Le said that she “was attracted to his mind at first. He was so sincere and kind, it was later that I realized how good looking he was.” With 75 guests including many more of their fellow RSVP volunteers, Terry and Le were married by Le’s brother, a local minister, Cliff Saupe, here at the place they met. After the wedding, they served a beautiful cake made by the senior center head cook, Tracy Haynes. Terry and Le are enjoying their honeymoon on a cruise to Alaska. They will be back to serve and volunteer in their community again, only this time as a team.
 

 

 

Senior Corps Pledge

Senior Corps volunteers are taking this inspiring pledge as they begin their service. This commitment energizes their Senior Corps service and lasts throughout their lives. Even if you aren’t a Senior Corps volunteer, you can pledge to make our country stronger, too. Just change the words “Senior Corps volunteer” to “American."

I will get things done for America – to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.

When faced with a pressing challenge, I will bring Americans of all generations together to strengthen our communities.

When faced with children at risk, I will help them stay in school and on track for a brighter future.

When faced with older adults in need, I will provide support and compassion so they may age with grace and dignity.

Working for the greatest good, I will use my lifetime of experiences to improve my country, my community, and myself through service.

I am a Senior Corps (RSVP, Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion) volunteer, and I will get things done.