Under normal circumstances, this would be the time of year when Lutheran’s Foster Grandparents, teachers and other school support staff from the area would come together for a celebration of service to children and families in the community. Unfortunately, temporary changes had to be made to this year’s volunteer appreciation activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a replacement, staff from Lutheran Senior Housing and Foster Grandparent offices delivered no-contact thank you gifts to all volunteers outside of their homes.
“All of our foster grandparents were very excited to see us again,” said Brenda Weiler, Project Coordinator for the Lutheran Foster Grandparent Program. “We all felt honored to do this for them after everything they have done for us. We recognized over forty volunteers this year,” said Weiler. The volunteer gifts included a platter of bread and cookies made by Elegant Edibles Catering, fruit, candy, a flashlight, and a gift card.
The Lutheran Foster Grandparent Program is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency focused on volunteering, service, and civic engagement. The CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through several Senior Corps programs.
“Our foster grandparents are local, senior citizen volunteers placed under the direction and supervision of an assigned teacher or site supervisor at our area schools,” said Weiler. “They establish a one-on-on relationship with a child in need of extra help and provide guidance in and out of the classroom. Volunteers help the students with their learning and help the teachers with special focus areas within the classroom,” she said. Foster grandparents frequently help improve students’ literacy skills like writing or reading as well as provide assistance with other subjects.
The Lutheran Foster Grandparent Program services Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegheny Counties. The program is actively searching for new recruits to serve in local schools when restrictions are lifted to do so. To qualify, volunteers must be 55 years of age or older and have an interest in serving and guiding students in a classroom setting in their own community.
Lutheran Senior Housing and Foster Grandparent staff helped package and deliver the volunteer appreciation gifts using no-contact drop-offs and personal protective equipment for safety. Pictured from left: Tiffany Erhard, Senior Project Support Coordinator, Karen Pfeffer, Clerical Assistant, Kevin Saff, Director, Patricia Fitzgerald, Financial Counselor, and Brenda Weiler, Project Coordinator.