Volunteer Center of Iron County Volunteer Coordinator Cindy Rose said that the Foster Grandparent program is looking to hire for two positions in Iron County, and around six positions in both Garfield and Beaver County.
Rose said she is hoping to hire within the next week, because training is required before volunteers can begin working with children, and school begins in only a few weeks.
“They go into a classroom and they work one-on-one, or sometimes in a small groups with students that need extra help with reading, or math, or both,” she said. “They have to commit to 15 hours a week, but they can go up to 40 hours a week if they want to.”
Iron County School District Director of Elementary Education Steve Burton said he had experience working with the Foster Grandparents when he was the principal at East Elementary School in Cedar City, Utah.
He said the program is a powerful resource to help schools provide extra help where it’s needed, and an opportunity to build lasting connections within the community.
“It allows the community to be involved in the schools and contribute to students,” he said. “Which I think is important for the schools and for the community, because it gives individuals the opportunity to feel like they’re doing something positive to contribute.”
Burton said that the senior volunteers he has worked with through the years have had a lot to give back, and the Foster Grandparents program gave them a positive way to go about doing that.
“And it’s been my experience that the students just love them,” he said. “They’re a grandparent figure, and so the kids really do connect with the ‘grandparents’.”
Senior volunteer Sandra Dee said she has been working in her as a Foster Grandparent at Three Peaks Elementary in Enoch, Utah for four years, and she absolutely loves it. She said she began volunteering in her grandson’s kindergarten class, and before long, the administration connected her with the Iron County Volunteer Center so that they could keep her on as long as possible.
Dee said she still works with the kindergarteners. Their needs vary she said. Some children need help with letters and numbers, others need help learning their reading words, but she said they all tend to vary in skill level and needs, because they are all coming from different homes and have different experiences.
“The teachers have a lot of things that we can use to work with the kids,” she said. “Like with math, they’ll have boxes full of little blocks, or little animals that we can use – if they can’t grasp the numbers, then we can pull out these tools so this way they can see it better.”
Dee said she volunteers 40 hours a week, and it feels good to be a part of such important work on a daily basis. After moving to Enoch to live closer to grandchildren, she said the Foster Grandparent program has offered her a chance to be a productive part of a new community.
“It’s like getting up and going to work every day,” she said. “It really makes you feel good to wake up and get ready in the morning knowing that you’re making a difference.”
Rose said the ideal candidate for Foster Grandparents would be 55 years, or older, and be able to pass a background check. She said they should be patient, and like working with children.
The position comes with a small stipend and mileage reimbursement she said, but qualified individuals must fall within a specific income bracket depending on the size of their family.
More information is available by contacting Cindy Rose at the Volunteer Center of Iron County (435) 867-8384, or stop in to the office at 88 E. Fiddler’s Canyon Rd., Suite H, Cedar City, Utah.