Grandparents have a wealth of wisdom that can positively impact their families and others in their communities. My last blog post covered how grandparents can work with their home
schooled grandchildren. This week’s focus is on grandparents and other seniors who want to make a difference in their communities.
For several years our church has provided a ministry to our local elementary school to help provide school supplies for needy students and teacher breakfasts on the first day back at school. This long-standing relationship opened the door for church members to participate in a new mentoring program for at risk students. The school selects the students they feel would benefit, parents give their permission, and the school matches a volunteer to work with a child on a weekly basis. The child leaves the classroom and interacts with the mentor in the media library for 30 minutes at least once a week. (In the stories below, the names of the two grandparent mentors have been changed to protect the privacy of all the parties.)
I asked John to tell me about his experience as a mentor to a 5th grade boy. He expected to help him with math or English, but the counselor explained that this boy just needed a friend. As they met together, John worked to break down the age barrier so they could become friends. He thought for sure that an eleven year old boy would be interested in sports. He was surprised to discover than his mentee wanted to talk about politics. John was a history and political junkie, so the two clicked right away. At the end of the school year luncheon for the mentors, John’s assigned student gave him a big bear hug and said he hoped he could come to his new school and continue to be his friend.
Mary’s experience as a mentor was with two 5th grade girls at first, but one dropped out of the program. Mary and her remaining student spent time talking about her experiences at school. She learned her student was an artist, so Mary brought her a paper tablet for drawing. During other sessions they played UNO or worked on Mary’s electronic tablet playing puzzles and games. As they met and talked, they bonded making a memorable experience for both parties in spite of the wide age difference.
Seeds planted tend to bear fruit in due time, and the contribution of these grandparents is yet to be fully realized. No matter how old we are there are ways for our older generation to make a difference in our communities.
I would love to hear from you if you know of other ways seniors can positively influence the younger generation. Enter your comment below and please add your name at the end of your comments.