Volunteers desperately needed in Marion Co.

• Rewarding opportunity for those looking to give back

Foster Grandparent Project Director Jessica Latham and coordinator Rena Prince are desperately seeking more volunteers for the program for the upcoming school year.
“We are needing volunteers in all the schools,” Prince said. “We are wanting interested persons to call us now at (256) 332-6800 so they have time to get their applications in and get trained before school begins.”
Schools on the waiting list for volunteers include Brilliant, Guin, Hackleburg, Hamilton and Winfield.
The Foster Grandparent Program is a service funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Latham and Prince’s office is located in Russellville and serves Marion, Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale and Winston counties.
Prince explained that they currently have about 60 foster grandparents assisting students across their five-county area.
She said that the local organization is looking for as many foster grandparents as they can get. One year, they had more than 100 volunteers sign up..
The volunteer will be present in classrooms and sit with a child to provide additional moral support while also assisting them with their academics.
“Call us and we can give you more information and mail you an application,” said Latham. “After that, we can do the one-day training in the volunteer’s specific town and place them in a school.”
Latham said that the program is rewarding and foster grandparents come away with unconditional thanks, socialization, feeling needed, a sense of accomplishment, heightened self-esteem, impacting a child’s life and solving community problems.
The program director also noted that foster grandparents are considered volunteers, but do receive an hourly tax-free stipend of $2.65 an hour and 23 cents per mile. Schools will also provide the foster grandparents with
Persons must also be at least 55 years old to qualify.
“This does not count against any Medicare, retirement or other income,” Prince said. “You do not have to report the foster grandparent stipend on housing or food stamp paperwork.”
Regarding foster grandparent duties, Prince said volunteers work with special needs children on academic lessons using different techniques, such as flash cards.
“They are like a tutor or an aide for the children,” Latham said. “The teachers assign them to children who need extra attention in specific areas.”
For more information, interested persons can contact Prince or Latham at (256) 332-6800.