By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
For some families, grandparents are the ties that bind a family together. But that blood-bond isn’t there for every child. In Portales that’s where a special group of volunteers steps up to the plate.
Today is Grandparents Day and local school faculty and staff from the Community Services Center in Portales say there are some special grandparents to be celebrated in the community. Those people are the volunteers in the center’s Foster Grandparent program, which allows eligible seniors the chance to stay active in the community and help out at the local schools.
“Teachers love them, they provide love and care. It’s a lot of one on one care (with the students),” said Judy Griego, program director at CSC.
The foster grandparents are able to go into the classroom for a few hours each week to help the teachers out and help work with the students, said Griego. By working in the classroom, they are able to alleviate some of the shortage of staff problems the schools are experiencing. They work with students that need some extra tutoring or just one on one attention, Griego said.
“We are the most fortunate people. I’m real blessed to be a foster grandparent. I just love to be around kids,” said Buddy Moorhead, foster grandparent.
Involved with the program since February 2003, Moorhead spends a few hours each day at James Elementary school helping teacher Brenda Parrish in her third grade classroom. While in the classroom, she helps out with reading and math, said Moorhead.
“She’s wonderful. I have a great (foster) grandmother,” said Parrish.
According to James Elementary Principal, Michael Terry, the foster grandparent program has been in place in the school for several years.
“They treat the kids like their own. Many of the students have lost or do not know their own grandparents,” Terry said.
Wanda Corbin is also another foster grandparent who works in the Child Development Center at Eastern New Mexico University. Working with 4- and 5-year-olds, Corbin helps the teachers with various activities, such as arts and crafts.
“I just do whatever they need me to do,” Corbin said.
Being a federally funded program, allows the volunteers to be paid a small stipend, said Griego. Before becoming a foster grandparent, a background check must be completed. There are currently four openings in the program and both men and women are eligible to be a foster grandparent, according to Griego.
Another aspect of the program, said Griego, is it gives the grandparents a chance to get out of the house and to stay active. Through the program, they are able to spend up to 25 hours per week in the classrooms. Many of the students see them in town and will remember them years later, she said.
“This really puts a lot of meaning in their lives. It’s a wonderful program,” Griego said.