Volunteer opportunity for elders
August 1, 2018
If you’re old enough to remember when JFK’s administration started the VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program, you’ll be happy to know it continues today. Now called Americorps, it is the organization behind my favorite volunteer activity in Anchorage. The Senior Corp’s Elder Mentor Program operating in our Anchorage schools, and throughout the state, is helping children from pre-school through high school. This is the same program that is sometimes called “Foster Grandparents”, and this fall will be my fourth year as an Elder Mentor at Chester Valley Elementary school in Anchorage.
While the program was designed to place low income seniors who can commit to 15 hours a week in a local school, the program has been very flexible for me. When I began I wasn’t low income and couldn’t quite volunteer 15 hours a week. But after my husband passed away, my income dropped and I qualified for the monthly stipend. Also I can now easily work three days a week for five or six hours.
The teachers and administrative staff at our school have become friends and I’ve gotten to know some of the parents in my neighborhood as well. I chose elementary school children but many of our elders work with junior high or high school students. The joy that I’ve experienced with my kindergarteners more than compensates me, and my days with them are rich and full of new experiences.
If you love being with children, I encourage you to contact our Alaskan Elder Mentor Program at 907-865-7353 and talk to Jan or Jennifer about our program. If you’re not in Anchorage you can call them on the toll free number, 800-478-7227. It’s a wonderful way to add laughter and hugs to your life.
Gail “Grandma” Wood