Alex Haley once said, “Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” I was fortunate to receive a lot of stardust in my formative years, and I know it shaped who I am today. In hindsight, I recognize how mentoring and caring for me also benefited my grandparents.
One does not have to be a traditional grandparent to step into this role. AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteers spend time with children, share life stories, pass down wisdom, and listen, with no genetic tie required.
The benefits to a child
Children matched with an AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteer gain:
- Emotional support and a connection. Connecting with an older adult volunteer can boost a child’s self-esteem and sense of wellbeing.
- Wisdom and life experiences. Through storytelling and spending time together, Foster Grandparent volunteers share knowledge and life lessons with the younger generation.
- Mentorship and guidance. Hearing an older individual’s perspective helps children develop the ability to navigate challenges, make decisions, and develop critical thinking skills.
- Unplugged time and face-to-face interactions. Being away from screens allows children to engage in conversations, tell stories, and play games to develop stronger interpersonal skills.
- Academic support. Children can receive mentoring and support as they grow and develop academically.
The benefits to the volunteer
As volunteers, AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteers experience the following benefits:
- Improved health. Spending just one day a week with a young child could lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders.
- Increased life satisfaction. Older individuals that spend time with children are more fulfilled than their peers who do not.
- Simple lessons. Children remind adults to live in the moment, to take time to play, and to dream big.
- Reduced isolation and a newfound sense of purpose. Volunteers get to spend time with other people, from different generations, while making a positive impact on their lives.
The benefits to our society
Over the past 200 years, life expectancy has steadily increased due to improved medical treatments and advances, better healthcare options, and healthier lifestyle choices. With the right support and investment, increased longevity positions society to benefit from older adults who are experienced problem-solvers and change agents. AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteers and other older adult volunteers improve our communities by enriching the lives of children.
Sprinkle stardust on a child in need
The AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparents Program connects you with opportunities to pour your guidance and wisdom into the next generation. As an AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteer, you can help in various ways: tutoring, mentoring teenagers and young mothers, caring for premature infants, and supporting children who have been neglected or abused. The presence of a grandparent figure in a child’s life provides support, guidance, and connection that contributes to their emotional, social, and cognitive development.
And, who knows? You might be the spark a child needs for increased self-assuredness, joy and belief in their future success. Seize your moment to mentor a future novelist, scientist, teacher, medical professional, city planner, or community volunteer. Take time today to learn more about the Foster Grandparents program by visiting AmeriCorps.gov/YourMoment.