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City, school officials honor Foster Grandparent program

Behind any successful city is an army of people who normally work behind the scenes fulfilling vital roles that keep the city and its residents functioning on a regular basis.
On Tuesday, Russellville Mayor David Grissom honored a group of volunteers who play an important role in the city’s school – the Foster Grandparent Program.
The recognition was part of the Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service where over 600 mayors across the country recognized important service groups in their communities for the help they provide in key areas.
The initiative is being sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Cities of Service, the National League of Cities and other organizations.
The Foster Grandparents Program, which is an arm of the Corporation for National and Community Service, has been sponsored by the city of Russellville since 1974.
The city school system and their standard of excellence has always been a source of pride for the city of Russellville, and Grissom said the Foster Grandparent Program plays an important part in the education of the city’s students.
“My daughter, Kate, is in second grade at West Elementary and she has so many good things to say about the foster grandmother who was in her classroom last year,” Grissom said.
“I saw through her the difference these volunteers make in our children’s classrooms and how important they are to our school system and our city as a whole.
“I am more than glad to show support of this outstanding program, and I appreciate the work these volunteers do to make an impact on the lives of our young people.”
While honoring the Foster Grandparent Program on Tuesday, Grissom took a tour of West Elementary School and saw many of the active foster grandparents in action in their classrooms.
“I was able to see first-hand these foster grandparents working with students on their reading and their writing skills,” Grissom said. “You could see how much the students would benefit from this one-on-one attention.”
Grissom also had lunch with the Foster Grandparent Program volunteers before signing a proclamation declaring April 9, 2013, as National Service Recognition Day in the city of Russellville.
“We appreciate Mayor Grissom and his support of this program,” said Jessica Latham, director of the Foster Grandparent Program that serves Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale, Marion and Winston counties.
“We decided to participate in this day of recognition as a way to make the public more aware of our program and what we do to help in the community.”
Latham said the Foster Grandparent Program has a three-fold benefit that has been proven vital over the years.
“Of course our program benefits the special needs students who work directly with our volunteers,” she said. “They are able to get specialized, one-on-one learning time that helps them improve their skills and they also are able to develop a bond with our volunteers and receive the love and support they need to help them be successful.
“The program is also a benefit to the teachers whose classrooms they serve in. they are an extra set of eyes, ears and hands and are able to help children when the teacher has his or her hands full or assist with other classroom projects that need to be done.
“All of our teachers are very complimentary of our volunteers.
“And last, our program is a great benefit to the senior citizens who are a part of it.
“Our program is open to anyone over the age of 55 who has a limited income. By being part of the program, each volunteer is able to get out of his or her home and do something productive with their time. They make friends and feel a sense of accomplishment through the work they do. And they receive a tax-free stipend for their service that isn’t a lot, but it’s enough to help with groceries or doctor’s visits.”
Latham said the local Foster Grandparent Program currently has 81 volunteers who serve in 35 work stations in the five-county area.
“This is a great program and we are glad the volunteers are being recognized for their excellent service.”
Fore more information about the Foster Grandparent Program, call 256-332-6800.