For more than a dozen years, Idene Minchin has been in the classroom - helping students with their reading and math. "95. Over here, sweetheart," she explains to a student as she points to an equation on a worksheet. The 82-year-old comes to Bailey Charter School four days a week for five hours a day. The students here, however, do not call her teacher. "Thank you, Grandma," says a student as she reaches up for a big hug. She is better known as Grandma M.
Grandma M volunteers 20 hours a week volunteering through the Foster Grandparent program. "Well, why wouldn't I do it, actually? They're wonderful children and they need help." She, like many other senior citizens in our community, are placed in supervised settings, where they can mentor and tutor at-risk youth. It's a national program that has been around since the early 1970's. Here in northern Nevada, the seniors impact about 5,000 children every year. "They just love it. As for the volunteers, it gives them good purpose to their day. They look forward to it," says Mary Brock, the Executive Director of the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs. The kids look forward to it, too; just ask their teacher Mrs. Sherry Coops, who says Grandma M is part of the family. "The kids are always giving her love. They feel warm and safe and that's half the battle of learning - is feeling comfortable."
Grandma M says the kids are not the only ones benefiting though. "If I feel that I'm having a bad day, it's all taken care of by them - the minute I walk into their room. I love seeing them; it's a mutual situation here." She says with a giggle.
To learn more about the Foster Grandparent program, you can contact Mary Brock at the contact information listed below or you can "like" the program on Facebook.Foster Grandparent & Senior Companion Programs1380 Greg Street #212Sparks, Nevada 89431(775) 358-2768http://www.nnelf.com
Written by Kristen Remington