Grandpa Rivers – Foster Grandparent, Friend, Mentor at Guice
Grandpa Rivers has been volunteering at Easterseals’ Guice Child Development Center for the past four years. He began this new phase of his life after decades in the catering service. As a manager, he helped run events at the Georgia Dome, World Congress Center and Centennial Park (including the Olympics). After he was forced to give up work due to illness, he realized he wasn’t ready or willing to retire. He loved interaction way too much to just sit around the house.
A friend told him about the Foster Grandparent program. Even though he did not have very much experience with children, he thought he’d give it a shot. Grandpa Rivers immediately fell in love with all the children at the center.
Now, he shadows two children who need a little more attention. His presence in the classroom isn’t just a help to the teachers, it’s a friendly, inviting and supportive male face for the children.
“Grandpa Rivers is such an inspiration to all the children at Guice,” says center manager Victoria Holbert. “He is always smiling, playing and helping the children become their best selves. With his guidance, we know the children will start elementary school with the tools they’ll need not just to learn, but to succeed.”
In 2014, the teachers at Guice Child Development Center presented him with Grandpa of the Year award. He hung this award in his house as a reminder that his work means something – that he is making a difference in his community.
Foster Grandparent Program
Authorized by Congress in 1965 as a way to enable low-income older adults to receive benefits while serving children with special needs, ESNG has sponsored Foster Grandparents since 2011. Over 100 Foster Grandparent volunteers spend 15 hours each week with children in Head Start programs and daycare centers in DeKalb and Fulton counties where they provide one-on-one support to at-risk children.