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Foster Grandparents Honored at the "Grandy's"

On May 30th, the Friends Program rolled out the teal carpet to celebrate the end of the 2023-24 school year with seniors from across New Hampshire at ‘The Grandys’.

These seniors all have something in common: they dedicate time each week to volunteer in a school or childcare classroom across New Hampshire. The Friends Program, based in Concord, connects these adults 55+ with a classroom placement where they act as an extra set of hands and heart while providing a much-needed opportunity for intergenerational connection. As part of the AmeriCorps Seniors initiative, these volunteers are known as Foster Grandparents.  Friends Foster Grandparents served over 41,000 hours and impacted nearly 800 children around New Hampshire last year.

The Grandys recognized Foster Grandparent volunteers for their service in promoting the academic, emotional, and social success of younger generations, from toddlers to teens. Volunteers socialized, enjoyed dinner and dessert, and commemorated the night with the help of a photobooth. Volunteers were also individually honored for their time commitment, ranging from 3 months to 24 years.

Those 24 years were accomplished by Doris Demers, a Foster Grandparent at Manchester’s Bartlett School. Doris was joined by her longtime classroom teacher, who shared that Bartlett School has instituted a "Miss Doris Kindness Award" this year. This award aims to recognize students who show consistent kindness—a testament to Doris's lasting impact. But this time, it was Doris who was being recognized. Doris was presented with two dozen roses, each symbolizing a year of her service and a classroom of children positively and permanently affected by her dedication. As Doris's well-deserved retirement approaches at the end of the 2023-24 school year, she will be deeply missed, though the ripples of her kindness will continue for years to come.

Foster Grandparents play a crucial role in supporting learning and healthy development across the state. They assist in academic pursuits, act as role models for at-risk children, keep struggling students on track, and provide essential encouragement and emotional support. Every participating teacher reported that their volunteer helped them to better meet the needs of their class throughout the 2023-24 school year.

Older adults who volunteer as Foster Grandparents gain a sense of purpose, connection, and community, reducing feelings of isolation which sometimes accompany retirement. The structured routine of volunteer work brings consistency to their days. Moreover, volunteers receive benefits such as a tax-free stipend, mileage and meal reimbursements, paid time off, ongoing training, and invitations to recognition events like the Grandys.

This evening of fun was a perfect kickoff to the summer vacation. Many volunteers will enjoy a well-earned break, while some will continue to support summer schools and childcare programs until the new school year begins.

In the meantime, Friends Program staff will be hard at work creating new partnerships between seniors and schools for the 2024-25 school year. If you’re a school or childcare staff member interested in welcoming a senior volunteer, or a senior looking for an enriching activity come fall, our staff would be happy to speak with you. You can learn more by contacting the Friends Program at (603) 228-0141 or fgp@friendsprogram.org. Or, visit our website, at friendsprogram.org. Join us in making a lasting difference—because every child stands to gain from the wealth of experience that seniors bring.

 

Pictured from left to right:  FG Ina Warren, honored for 5 years of service, FG Doris Demers, honored for 24 years of service, Doris’s Teacher Darcie, FG Jeanne Kydd, honored for 20 years of service, her daughter Linda, Vivian Walsh, honored for 10 years of service and her friend Joan.

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