Foster grandparents changed lives for many
LuAnn Paepke, Statewide Foster Grandparent Coordinator, Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources

Playing cards when you are retired sounds like a nice way to pass the time. Playing cards while spending time with teenage boys for four or five days a week seems a bit of an odd choice. Now add to that you need to pass through security and be "locked up" with juvenile offenders and you begin to wonder. To top it off, imagine being a long-time retiree who has just turned 99 years old. Grandma Rose has been a Foster Grandparent for 38 years. She spent that time volunteering over 38,000 hours. That breaks down to 15-20 hours a week, every week.
                                                                      Simply amazing!

Rosetta "Rose" Grady was recruited at the age of 61 by Barb Kresse, the equally long-serving Foster Grandparent Supervisor at Ethan Allen School in Wales. Rose and Barb are retired together when Ethan Allen School closed last month.

Rather than to just say goodbye, Grandmas Rose, Bev, Pat, Gloria and Grandpas Pete and Don met together with Barb and LuAnn to just wrap up their careers as Foster Grandparents. They shared many heartwarming stories about the difference they made in the lives of the boys they have worked with during the time they spent tutoring and mentoring. There is a strong feeling of purpose and satisfaction among Foster Grandparents.

A volunteer position that people love

Five years ago, Grandpa Pete, a Foster Grandparent for just a short time, stood up in a gathering of 200 Foster Grandparents to tell everyone that his new "job" was more rewarding in the last 6 months than 30 years at the job from which he had retired. The Foster Grandparent Program has become his life and he will miss it dearly. He plans to work and volunteer at another juvenile home in the Waukesha area.
Most of the youth are being sent to Lincoln Hills School in Irma (near Wausau) to finish out their sentences. Fortunately, many will meet up with one of 15 Foster Grandparents serving there. Donna Nash, Foster Grandparent Supervisor, is recruiting more Foster Grandparents to handle the increased youth population.
There isn't room for the stories of the other four Foster Grandparents at Ethan Allen or the 350 remaining Foster Grandparents in Wisconsin. There are so many stories from the youth and children they all have helped, too.
The Bureau of Aging and Disability Resources, Office on Aging has operated the Wisconsin Foster Grandparent Program for over 45 years. Funding for the program comes from the Federal Corporation for National and Community Service. There are 16 remaining Foster Grandparent Programs in WI. Some Foster Grandparents rock babies, some work with residents at Central Wisconsin Center, but most are found in schools. If you know of a low-income older adult living in Dane County, age 55 or over, looking for a rewarding experience working with children (and a small stipend), tell them to call Akeem Torres, Dane County coordinator: 608-441-7894.

                                                                        It will change their lives.