How do you sprinkle on the magic that all the years accumulated over a lifetime and get those sprinkles to go a little further for the benefit of everyone? Believe it or not, all of this sprinkling doesn't come from Lucky the Leprechaun, it's coming from a group of senior citizens you may not have heard of unless you have kids who are being directly helped by their time, talents and life treasures. These people are with the Americorps Seniors and they are one of the groups that the United Way of the Lakeshore helps work for the greater good of our community.
There are two different paths actually with the Americorps Seniors you can take if you are 55 and older and willing to give of some of your time. There's the Foster Grandparent program which we'll be discussing today as well as the Senior Companion program which is designed to help give families and caregivers for the elderly a hand in making the quality of life better by providing longer independence by helping with some of the "daily needs" things that can be a little tougher as we all age. The Foster Grandparents, as you will see shortly are hands on with kids in schools. In fact, they are spread across three counties out of the United Way of the Lakeshore office and in all of those counties, exceptional stories of love, extra attention and years of wisdom are moving the needle for kids who might just need a little more attention.
Josephine Goynes and Dorothy Erickson are the "Grandma's" at Orchard View Early Elementary. We sat down with them as well as Principal Beth Ackley and Amy Alexander and Danielle Bucy who work with the Americorps program to learn more about how this is implemented in the school and more over, how the impact carries far beyond the school day. The dual benefit that comes along with this program is so evident too. What I wonder about is if the video picks up the eyes of these delightful women. You can clearly see that not only has this opportunity for them kept a twinkle in them, there's a very deep level of caring in there. It's a pretty incredible thing to hear when someone says "I don't have my own kids, and all of the sudden, I have a few hundred." Take a listen.
Here's your chance. The reality of a program like the Senior Companion or A Foster Grandparent are a great way to occupy some time, but more over they are ways to gain so much more than you give. As you heard our Grandma's talking about....they literally get stopped and told how much of a difference they have made be it in a hallway or a grocery store. As a direct support of younger people too, it's a great chance to bring in some angles that young parents might miss. That steady, pressure free, assured voice that can just say "it will be ok" is a remarkably powerful tool. It's in all of us and the first step is no more than raising your hand and saying "I'll help." Learn a little more below.