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To mentor kids, seniors fit the bill

Duncan_Not every child is lucky enough to have a grandparent involved in their lives.  That's where foster grandparents come in and offer emotional support, help with schoolwork, and tutor kids one on one. 

The program is a nation-wide, government funded program, and several chapters are located in Texoma.  The participants say they're making a difference, daily, in kids' lives.  The Foster Grandparent Program started in 1980, and many involved say most people think the kids go home with them at night, or on the weekend.  That's not the case with this program.  The volunteer grandparents provide all of their help during a typical school day.

Wanda Welch volunteers daily to help make a difference in children's lives.  She says the kids help the volunteers, too.  "I was at a point in my life where I really needed something to do," she says.  She has been volunteering at Mark Twain Elementary in Duncan for three years. 

Welch admits that at first she would only volunteer a few hours a week.  But, things changed.  Now she says she wakes up with a purpose.  "You really feel good if you've seen a breakthrough, if you have really helped someone," she says.

Dr. Joann Pierce says she sees a difference on a daily basis.  She has been a principal at three different schools that take advantage of the program.  "My experience is kids love to come to school and see the grandparents," she says.  "They have a warm spirit, and the children fall in love with them.  The foster grandparent gives them a pat on the back when they need a little extra lift when doing assignments."  Pierce says it keeps the grandparents young at heart, too. 

Principals determine what classes need to be improved, and which students may need some tutoring, before assigning a grandparent.  If you are interested in volunteering, contact Program Director Mynan Hutto at 580-255-3222.

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