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‘Foster Grandparents’

Agency Works With Elderly, Who Mentor the Very Young

Sunbeam Family Services is using a grant to work with the elderly, who, in turn, are mentoring elementary students.

A Foster Grandparent Program Grant was awarded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The grant, administered by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, allows Sunbeam Family Services to work with “foster grandparents” and elementary students in Oklahoma, Canadian, Kingfisher, Logan, Garfield, Noble and Kay Counties.

Patrick O’Kane is director of senior citizen services at Sunbeam. “Although we are based in Oklahoma City,” he said, “our goal is to hire a dedicated staff person to administer the program in Enid and the surrounding area.”

Another Sunbeam staff-member will manage the Oklahoma City area, as well as programs in Canadian, Kingfisher and Logan Counties, Mr. O’Kane said.

The program recruits elderly volunteers to coordinate their mentoring efforts with schools, principals and teachers.

The volunteers work one-on-one with elementary students to improve academic achievement.

The volunteers receive training each month.

“The program is truly a community effort,” Mr. O’Kane said, “since it involves older citizens, who help enhance learning opportunities for children.”

The program has the additional advantage of helping schools, teachers and parents, he said.

“In that way, entire communities are benefitting and are made more viable,” he stated.