Winner of ECE 2017 Touchstone Energy Community Award
Everyone wins with Foster Grandparents program
A program that has benefitted children, older adults and local schools for more than 50 years has received East Central Energy’s (ECE) 2017 Touchstone Energy® Community Award.
Numbers validate the positive impact the Catholic Charities Central MN Foster Grandparents (FG) program has on the reading fluency of students, but the smiles, hugs and happiness it brings to everyone involved can’t easily be counted. More than 50 Foster Grandparents work one-on-one with students in 12 public schools and non-profit educational programs in ECE’s service territory.
Grandma Geneva volunteers at Isanti Primary School five days a week. She has been a Foster Grandparent for 14 years and looks forward to helping children with their reading skills and working with the teachers.
“Each child has a different personality, which makes it challenging but fun. It never gets boring,” she said. ‘I’m able to get out, be with young teachers and kids, meet other volunteers…it’s great!”
Adults ages 55 and older volunteer to serve as Foster Grandparents, earning a small stipend and mileage reimbursement for devoting at least 15 hours each week to the program. Volunteers are paired with a school or non-profit close to their home. They specify the grade level at which they’d like to work. Their hours are flexible to accommodate vacations, appointments and other commitments. Many volunteers dedicate more than 20 hours per week to their Foster Grandparent role.
“The program is an all-around win/win and a great resource for communities,” said Stacy Lund, program director. “Our mission is lived out every day. Foster Grandparents say the program gives them a reason to get up in the morning…and helps them remain active. Statistically, children who work with a Foster Grandparent are better able to achieve their academic and behavioral goals.”
ECE’s Touchstone Energy Community Award recognizes a local organization that is making a difference in its community. As ECE’s winner, the Catholic Charities Central MN Foster Grandparent program will receive a $500 cash prize and will be recognized at the co-op’s April 19 annual meeting. The organization will also be entered in competition for the statewide Touchstone Energy Community Award, which has a cash prize of $1,000.
Grandma Geneva, front, has been a Foster Grandparent with the Catholic Charities
Central MN program for 14 years. She’s pictured at Isanti Primary School with FG
Area Supervisor Pat Braun, Program Director Stacy Lund, and Principal Shane Dordal.