Foster grandparents make positive impact in Richmond schools - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Foster grandparents make positive impact in Richmond schools

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You can usually find Maserine Williams at Clark Springs Elementary School five days a week. She is not a teacher, but she is just as busy.

"Whatever my hands find to do, I do it," said Williams.

Usually, those hands are planted in between the pages of a school book in front of one of the school's first graders, who lovingly call her "Grandma Williams".

"I am 86 in age, but 25 in the mind," said Williams.

She has quite a list of responsibilities as a foster grandparent. She is one of five at Clark Springs, helping teachers like Doris Allgood.

"They do homework check. They mentor students. They help them out with organizational skills. They are there for them when there is a problem that they are concerned about when they are sad and upset," said Allgood. "Grandma Williams has been my rock. She is my right hand."

Foster grandparents are retired volunteers who spend time providing support for schools, hospitals, and even child care centers throughout the area.

Charlene Cole is the local Foster Grandparents program manager, and says since the program began 48 years ago, it has made quite an impact.

"A lot of children just have part-time adults in their lives, people that come and go. Foster grandparents are a consistent presence every week, and every day for these kids," said Cole.

That is what Williams wants to be, and according to the students, she is quite good at it.

"She help us with math and science," said student Travis White.

"Every time we lose our pencil, she gives us another one," said student Janaiyah Thompson.

"She gives us treats," said Harvon Churchwell.

However, in addition to helping these little ones with everyday assignments, she has enough wisdom to teach them about life, and she hopes they are taking notes on that as well.

"I certainly hope that they learn how to be patient. Learn how to be considerate," said Williams.

With her by their sides every day, all of these lessons are bound to stick.

The Foster Grandparent Program is locally sponsored by Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging. It is funded by a federal grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

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