Foster Grandparents make big impressions

After retirement, it can be hard for senior citizens to find work and fill their time, but a federal program has job openings perfect for them.

Nationwide, this is the 45th year of the Foster Grandparents program.

In Northeast Missouri the program has been going on for more than 25 years.

KHQA's Jarod Wells visited an in-service of Northeast Missouri Foster Grandparents to find out why they do what they do.

Once a month these senior citizens attend a Foster Grandparent In-service. On Tuesday, March 16th they learned about heart health, African music and gardening. But it doesn't take much to be a foster grandparent.

Foster Grandpa Curtis Miller said, "I do love kids, always have."

You must be 55 years or older to be a foster grandparent and there are income guidelines. Other than that you just have to be available.

Miller said, "It's a real kick to so many of the children in the facility I'm assigned to, they call me Grandpa. I guess the associate all older people as grandparents."

Foster Grandma Mary Painter said, "I guess I've been there so long they're just like part of my family."

The foster grandparents in Marion County cover 13 counties; from Macon, Adair and Knox to Ralls and Pike. They volunteer their time and efforts in daycares and school districts all over those areas.

Foster Grandparents Program Director Mary Miller said, "And it actually is the bridge between senior adults and children or disadvantaged young adults."

And perform tasks big and small.

Painter said, "Wash their faces, wipe their noses, whatever needs to be done."

Mary Miller said, "Sometimes many children do not have grandparents at home or they're coming from a one parent family and our grandparents provide that extra hug and attention that they can receive on a daily basis."

Mary Painter has been a foster grandparent for more than 17 years.

What is the thing you love most about doing this?

Painter said, "I feel like I'm needed."

Curtis Miller said, "Favorite part is just being involved with them in their play time or work time they call it."

Curtis Miller also says he has had trouble filling his time since he retired, but since he became a foster grandparent in 2009, he no longer has to worry about that.

Northeast Missouri is in need of more grandparents.

If you or someone you know would like to become a foster grandparent you can call 573-221-3890 to find out more information.

Or you can visit the Douglass Community Center at 711 Grand Avenue in Hannibal.