Foster Grandparent Vera Rice assists Edgemont Second Grader Alan Caldwell with his library book. Alan is a student in Miss Robin Waddell's class.
Author: Angie Jones
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
The Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) was established in 1965 and is administered through the federal agency Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS). CNCS awarded the grant effective July 1, 2005, to First Tennessee Human Resource Agency (located in Johnson City), who oversees the federal funding for the Foster Grandparent Program. The current FGP serves eight surrounding counties including Cocke County. The FGP office is located in Greeneville. According to Kathy Myers, the program's director, there are currently 84 Foster Grandparent volunteers serving in 53 work sites with only 9 currently serving the Cocke County area. She states that most of the volunteers are in their 70's and 80's with approximately 95 percent being women. The volunteers work with assigned children up to 20 hours each week. Activities include working closely with classroom teachers to provide one-on-one instruction to identified students in need, crafting instruction, Head Start assistance, all subject tutoring, or simply talking with youngsters. All volunteers complete an extensive investigation of physical ability, background, and police check before being allowed on perspective sites to work. Volunteers must also provide a valid driver's licence if they are not transported to each work area. Volunteers are provided with a small, hourly stipend which does not interfere with other benefits they may be receiving. Many look upon the FGP as a job and are dedicated to fulfilling all daily requirements. The program uses funds in addition to the small federal grant to keep functional. One sponsor is United Way who matches a portion of federal funding. Myers stated that United Way of Greeneville would contribute $26,000 to the FGP in 2007-2008. The program can always use more supporters in order to continue and expand. Please contact Kathy at (423) 639-8462 or fax at (423) 639-1599 to become a sponsor and supporter of this vital program which helps connect our generations together. Vera Rice is one of the 84 Foster Grandparent volunteers. We salute this special, local senior citizen! Vera is currently assigned to Edgemont Elementary School here in Cocke County. Vera is 82 years old and was born in Del Rio, Tennessee. Through many dedicated hours of service, she has and continues to work closely with students in the primary grades for the past four years. One comment Myers shares with us from Vera's Performance Evaluations written by teacher Linda Davidson said, "Vera is an important person in our first grade classroom. She is loving and caring toward the children. She attends to any task given to her and is invaluable to our first grade program." When asked in her interview to share a special quote or moment she has experienced in the Foster Grandparent Program, she quickly and happily told me of one young man who told her, "The brain is a precious thing. If you don't use it, you lose it!" From the words of a child comes truth that rings true for all generations. Hats off to Vera Rice for helping lead the way in connecting our generations!