WestCOP Seeks Volunteers For Foster Grandparent Program

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"Grandma Emelie," "Grandma Maureen," and Assistant Principal Rosemarie Romano standing with a project made by their students.
"Grandma Emelie," "Grandma Maureen," and Assistant Principal Rosemarie Romano standing with a project made by their students. Photo Credit: Contributed
"Grandma Betty" standing with a project made for her by students.
"Grandma Betty" standing with a project made for her by students. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- The Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP) is offering an exciting opportunity for low-income seniors looking to make a difference.

The "Foster Grandparents" program, which is a national program, provides an opportunity for income-eligible seniors (ages 55 and over) to work at Head Start centers, elementary schools or daycare centers in the Lower Hudson Valley for a tax-free and federally protected hourly stipend.

The program is looking to recruit seniors from all over Westchester, but applicants from White Plains are highly sought-after, according to recruiter Mike Iserson.

Program director Rosemarie Bahr said participants work one-on-one with children who need extra help in the classroom.

"They often read to the children, play games, work on number concepts, help with their art projects and a number of other activities," she said.

The program is beneficial to seniors because it increases their activity, and therefore their longevity.

"Research has proven that volunteering helps seniors stay active while living more independently longer," she said.

According to Bahr, participants are asked to work a minimum of 15 hours weekly and are provided 30 days of paid vacation, 12 sick days, 12 paid holidays, five inclement weather days and mileage reimbursement.

Currently there are over 200 seniors serving hundreds of children in WestCOP's program. Nationally, there are nearly 30,000 Foster Grandparents serving in 341 local projects throughout the United States.

Those interested in becoming a Foster Grandparent Volunteer or who want to learn more about the program can call 914-592-5600 ext. 114, or email rbahr@westcop.org.

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It sounds as though these "grandparents" will be working in the capacity of being teacher's aides. How does the pay compare, and since this is geared toward low-income people, are the jobs better off left to be filled and advertised as regular job openings for teacher's aide positions.