‘Foster grandparents’ needed to mentor students

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 10:34 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - If you are a retiree and looking for something to do, there might be a solution for you.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Louisiana is currently searching for ‘foster grandparents’ to work one-on-one with students struggling in the classroom. The program currently serves schools in Lake Charles, Sulphur, Iowa, Jennings, Westlake, and we’re told they’re looking to expand.

After retiring, Daisy Jones found herself looking for something to do with her newfound time.

“And decided okay maybe that’s something I wanted to do,” Daisy Jones said. “Made a phone call and hey, that’s how I am here.”

Now, she spends that time back in the classroom as a foster grandparent.

“You just have to be caring, you have to be caring, you have to be concerned,” Jones said. “You have to be that person who can nurture.”

She’s a part of Americorp’s Foster Grandparent Program facilitated through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Louisiana.

Those interested in becoming a grandparent must be at least 55 years old, able to work a minimum of 20 hours a week, and pass a background check and training. Volunteers work hands-on with students who are struggling in reading and math, but their impact goes further than the classroom.

“To watch them interact and see them with the kids and how well the kids are taken to them is heartwarming,” program coordinator AJ Fontenot said.

“My belief is to have someone to be there who is not really the teacher but is someone there showing concern and caring. Even if it’s just for the little things, giving them encouragement, patting them on the back.”

Jones has been a part of the program for four years. She works with students like Luciana Romero.

“They can watch us and always help us on things that we need help with, and they are super nice and sweet,” Luciana Romero said.

Foster grandparents receive a small, non-taxable hourly stipend that does not affect any government benefits that they may already be receiving. Volunteers can work 20 to 40 hours per week, receive mileage reimbursement, and receive paid time off for holidays.

For more information visit http://www.bbbsswla.org/foster-grandparent-program/ or contact Kathy Richard, program director, at krichard@bbbsswla.org or call 337-478-5437.