The Foster Grandparent Program run by Family Services of Montgomery County has operated since 1976, but in the last 12 months the program has experienced unprecedented growth.
“Within the last year, we’ve increased our numbers by 40 volunteers,” said Tricia Reedy Jones, program director for the Foster Grandparent Program. “We’re up to a total of 120 now.”
Among the recent additions are Francis Laws and Carol Welch, two Pottstown residents whose love of children led them to join the Foster Grandparent Program this summer.
“I have a love for children,” Laws said. "And I enjoy watching their growth as they come and go.”
The program is designed for adults age 55 and over, on a fixed income, and operates via a grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. Participants receive a tax-free stipend, plus a free meal and transportation in exchange for at least 15 hours of volunteer time per week. Most of the tutoring and mentoring takes place in elementary schools, child care centers or Head Start Programs throughout Montgomery County, and in Phoenixville and Coventry.
“I think the program gives a renewed purpose to our foster grandparents, by giving them an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences with children,” Reedy Jones said.
Welch used to work with the Head Start Program in Pottstown. From her standpoint, Welch said the stipend helps her financially—but more importantly, the program gives her a chance to ‘give back’ to the younger generation.
“I enjoy working with children, and I wanted to continue doing so,” she said. “It’s really a treat to be with these kids and watch them go through each stage of development.”
For more information on the Foster Grandparent Program through Family Services of Montgomery County, email Tricia Reedy Jones at TReedyJones@fsmontco.org or call 610-630-0201.