Foster Grandparents: make a little money, make a big difference
Limestone County retirees on a budget and looking for a meaningful activity might consider becoming a Foster Grandparent. Not only can elders make a little spending money, they will very likely find they become significant to the children with whom they interact.
That is the message of Pamela Ballentine, director of Limestone County’s Foster Grandparent Program since December, who spoke to the Mexia Lions Club recently on the program.
Ballentine saw firsthand the influence an elderly volunteer can make when her own children were growing up. She traveled a lot and never got to volunteer at her daughters’ schools – but her parents were there every day through a Foster Grandparent-type program. Her mother would go through different classes, reading to different children, while her father would work with children one-on-one, building trellises or making a scarecrow in the school garden.
“Those children today are about 24-28 years old,” Ballantine said, “and when my mom passed away, they called me up and said, ‘You do not know what she meant to me. I really felt like nobody cared about me – but then your mom walked into my life.’”
When elderly people interact with children the way a grandparent does, not only are the children’s lives enriched, but so are the lives of the seniors. Take Ozell Anglin, who has been a Foster Grandparent at Kids Kare Academy daycare in Groesbeck for nearly 14 years.
“It makes my day,” Anglin said. “I get up every day looking forward to coming over here.”
Peggy Bullard lives in Mexia, and, like Anglin, does her Foster Grandparenting in Groesbeck; but Bullard spends her time at H.O. Whitehurst Elementary School.
“It’s wonderful and so rewarding,” Bullard said. “You get attached to the kids and work with them. I even go to P.E. and work out with them.”
That’s what the Foster Grandparent Program does, Ballantine said, calling the program the best-kept secret in the state of Texas.
Not only do the children need the Foster Grandparents, but there are many seniors who are lonely and may feel unwanted or unneeded. The Foster Grandparent Program solves both problems.
To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.