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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2005

Foster Grandparent Program celebrates 40th year of service

The local Foster Grandparent Program that serves Jackson, Clay and Platte counties will recognize the 40th year of service of the national program June 17 at its annual recognition program and luncheon. The local Foster Grandparent Program has served this community for more than 20 years.

Mayor Kay Barnes will present the keynote address at 11 a.m. at this June 17 event which will begin at 10 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 620 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. Awards will be given to each foster grandparent and the Esther Award will be presented.

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 92 foster grandparents assisting more than 800 children – from newborns to 21-year-olds.

“The Foster Grandparent Program provides volunteer opportunities for older adults, and they in turn provide needed one-to-one service to special or exceptional needs children,” said Brenda Lax, Neighborhood and Community Services Department. Lax is the manager of the area’s Foster Grandparent Program.

“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, program manager, (816) 784-4519.

    
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