Health & Senior Living

Foster grandparenting a great way to stay young

    I have written before in this column about how important it is for us as we get older to stay engaged in life, to live vibrantly. I have also encouraged seniors to connect with youth as a way to ensure vitality.
    Well, fall is here, school is in full swing and there is a fabulous opportunity for seniors who want to have a good reason to get up in the morning to participate in a project that will keep you young, contribute to your community, help youth development and even put a little spending money in your pockets! I am talking about the Foster Grandparent Program which is sponsored by Penquis.
    Becoming a “Foster Grandparent” is easy. It does not involve taking care of a young child day in and day out (much easier than being a foster parent). Foster Grandparents are senior volunteers, age 55 and over (many Foster Grandparents are in their 70s and 80s), willing to serve at least 15 hours per week as a mentor/tutor to children from a few months to 21 years of age. Some volunteers choose to work up to 40 hours a week.

    Foster Grandparents are placed in schools, Head Starts, daycares, correctional facilities, etc. They read, play games, teach life skills, and pass on their wisdom and love to children who very much need it. The program attempts to match volunteers with their preferred site or age group. If income eligible, volunteers can receive a stipend which does not affect any State of Federal benefits. Other benefits include paid vacation time, 12 paid holidays per year, pre-service orientation, monthly trainings, mileage allowance or transportation to and from the volunteer site if needed.
    While such a time commitment may seem daunting for some, the comments from volunteers and children in the program show that this is an activity that is highly rewarding and sustaining, and that the time is valued equally by the Grandparent and the child: (The children) “… bring us so much joy! I truly believe this program improves our mental and physical health as it fills our heart and soul with a meaningful purpose!” (Grampy Norm).
    There are several local schools that have asked for Foster Grandparents and who are looking for people to take part in the program. The need is great. If you are interested in learning more about the Foster Grandparent Program, please call 973-3684 or 1-800-215-4942 ext. 3684 or email at
    We invite readers to offer feedback about this column and to suggest topics for future articles. You may do so by contacting Meg Callaway of the Charlotte White Center at (207) 947-1410 or or Lesley Fernow at (207) 992-6822 and

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