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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 12, 2006

Foster Grandparent Program celebrates volunteers

The Foster Grandparent Program that serves Jackson, Clay and Platte counties will recognize the contributions of its 90 foster grandparents at its annual recognition program and luncheon. The event will be held June 16 at 10 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 620 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

Councilman Alvin Brooks, 6th District at large, will present the keynote address at 10:45 a.m. Each foster grandparent will receive an award and the Esther Award, the award for exceptional service, will be presented. The children from the Francis Child Development Institute will provide entertainment at 10 a.m., and the U.S. Postal Choir will perform at 10:15 a.m.

The local Foster Grandparent Program has served this community for 30 years and the national program is in its 41st year. The national program evolved out of the Older Americans Act of 1965 as a cooperative effort between the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. It was seen as an opportunity for the establishment of a personal relationship between seniors who are 60 years old or older, and children needing individual attention they might not otherwise receive.

In 1971, the Foster Grandparent Program became part of the National Volunteer Agency, also known as ACTION. In 1994, the funding and administration of the Foster Grandparent Program changed to the Corporation for National and Community Service as a part of the Senior Volunteer Service Corps. By 2001, more than 30,000 foster grandparents tended to the needs of 275,000 young children and teenagers. Today in the Kansas City area, there are 90 foster grandparents assisting more than 800 children -- from newborns to 21-year-olds.

"The Foster Grandparent Program provides stipended volunteer opportunities for low-income older adults, and they in turn provide needed one-to-one service to special or exceptional needs children," said Brenda Lax, City of Kansas City, Mo., Neighborhood and Community Services Department. Lax is the program manager of the area's Foster Grandparent Program, which is sponsored by the Neighborhood and Community Services Department.

"It keeps our older adults actively involved, which as a result keeps them healthier. At the same time, they are assisting children who need the assistance the most," Lax said.

The program is open to all people age 60 and over who are interested in being a volunteer 15-40 hours a week. Those who are income eligible receive a stipend of $2.65 an hour which is tax-free and not included as income. They also receive reimbursement for transportation to and from their volunteer stations, meals during service, accident and liability insurance while on duty, and pre-service and monthly in-service training.

To learn more about the local Foster Grandparent Program that serves Jackson, Clay and Platte counties, call Brenda Lax, Neighborhood and Community Services Department, (816) 784-4519.

    
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