Foster grandparent program fills needs

Coming across the border from Louisiana a couple of weeks ago we stopped at the Texas Welcome Center at Orange. I have been in a lot of states and many welcome centers but I believe this is the best and most elaborate Welcome Center I have ever visited.
But that is not the point of this column. While visiting the center I picked up a couple of Texas newspapers. I like to read newspapers, large and small, that I find in such places, as well as at newsstands and restaurants across the country. One of those was the Orange County News, a Hearst newspaper published in Beaumont.
The lead article in that newspaper concerned the Foster Grandparent Program, a national program that enlists retirees to work with young people needing attention.

The article featured one Donna Peterson, a senior from Orange County and the first one to complete training in that East Texas town for the Foster Grandparent Program.
I read it with interest.
I am not familiar with that program but the article states there are some 25,000 Foster Grandparents spread throughout the United States. It offers these seniors, and other future volunteers, opportunities to serve as mentors, tutors, and caregivers for children and youth with exceptional needs. These seniors volunteer in schools, hospitals, drug treatment facilities and correctional centers, Head Start and other day care centers.
It seems Peterson completed her training in October and has already been given a new nickname, Alarm Clock Granny. She is involved with a new truancy program there and “I will be calling children who have truancy problems in the past in the mornings to make sure that they are awake and getting ready for school.”
Working out of one of the county’s Justice of the Peace courts she will “try to keep these kids on track the best that I can,” she said. “So many of these kids have parents who leave for work well before they leave for school. So many of them might just sleep through the morning, start playing and forget about the time or just decide to stay home.” Peterson hopes to put a stop to all of that.
I have no idea how widespread this might be in Harris County or if the program even exists here. I hope it does exist as the cause sounds great to me. There are thousands of kids who need such help and maybe we seniors can make a difference. Foster Grandparents is one of the programs federally funded with National Senior Service Corps. If you are interested please call them and start the volunteer process.
Donna Peterson of Orange County did just that and is making a difference in her community. You might be able to do the same.
Such are the people, places and things that have touched my life in my home!
Don Springer can be reached at touchlife@