Photo by Frank Prager
More than 100 people attended the Mayors Recognition Day April 2 at Senior Services Plus in Alton.
Senior Services Plus in Alton hosted a Mayors Recognition Day event for its Foster Grandparents volunteers on Thursday, April 2.
The event was attended by about 100 volunteers, the mayors from Alton and Bethalto and administrators from local schools and government offices. Meghan Hines, program director for the Corporation of National and Community Services, also came from Chicago to attend. Hines’ organization supports the annual engagement of 5 million citizens in service at more than 70,000 sites in 8,500 cities across the country.
The Foster Grandparents Program provides experienced tutors for children with special needs. Working one on one and serving 15 to 40 hours a week, Foster Grandparents provide support in local schools as well as the Headstart program and the Early Childhood Center in Godfrey. It is estimated the efforts of the Foster Grandparents Program at Senior Services Plus saves area schools more than $2 million per year in labor expenses.
Among other activities, the volunteers review schoolwork, reinforce values, teach parenting skills to young parents and care for premature infants and children with disabilities. Foster Grandparents often maintain an ongoing relationship with the children and youth served for a year or longer.
During the event, volunteers spoke of their personal commitment to helping area youths. As one volunteer explained, they “show love to their students and foster a positive atmosphere.”
Mayor Brant Walker of Alton and Mayor Alan Winslow of Bethalto spoke during the program. They spoke of the value these volunteers bring to the community and the difference they are making in people’s lives. Also included in the program were Kathy Germscheid, assistant principal at the William M. BeDell Achievement and Resource Center; Amy Meyer of the Madison County Recorder’s Office and Jody Meggos, assistant principal of East Elementary School in Alton.
The mayors’ focus on engaging citizens and meeting local needs matches the program’s mission of improving lives, strengthening communities and fostering civic engagement. The coordinated day of recognition presents a unique opportunity to spotlight the key role this service plays in solving local problems and challenges.
Neal read a proclamation issued by the city of Alton for the event that stated volunteerism is “the hallmark of American character.” Both mayors thanked the volunteers and spoke about how their efforts are life-changing for the children they are involved with.
The event included a breakfast followed by remarks by those in attendance. Foster Grandparent Director Devon Neal spoke of the positive presence and relationships in the classroom the program generates. She noted volunteers contributed a total of 98,029 hours of service this past year and assisted 781 children. All of the 97 volunteers in the program are 55 and older, but Neal also pointed out that 12 of the volunteers were 85 and older.