The Foster Grandparent Program in Charles City is being recognized for its success in helping children meet their needs in reading, spelling, math, writing and social skills. John Lusk and his wife got involved with the program last fall and they enjoy interacting with the children.
“We had a child that we were working with that was shying away from us at the beginning of the program in October,” Lusk says. “Now, this person will almost sit on top of us just to be near us. We have won that one over, very much so.” The program is so popular in Charles City that there’s a waiting list of people who want to volunteer.
Kathy Sonne is a retired teacher who’s been a foster grandparent for three years. “It gives me purpose to get up in the morning,” Sonne says. “I had a year after I retired where I didn’t do anything and I was a teacher in the past and thought this would be a perfect fit to go back to school to help the children and the teachers.”
“Grandma Dodi” is a foster grandparent in a kindergarten classroom in Charles City where the students instantly gravitate toward her.
“She likes me and I like her, too,” says one child. Another says, “She loves me and always gives me big hugs.” As for “Grandma Dodi,” she says she has lots of fun with the students.
“It’s just really great to have a reason to get up in the morning and they’re all just wonderful kids,” she says. “I love ’em all.” The Charles City Foster Grandparent program has 85 volunteers at 22 locations in three counties. Volunteers in the program account for about one-fifth of all foster grandparents for the entire state.
By Angela Barton, KCHA, Charles City