No Longer Alone
With your support, Senior Neighbors will continue placing wonderful people like Jerome and Franois into schools through the Foster Grandparents, and Refugee Programs.
Gifts to Senior Neighbors help ensure local seniors are “no longer alone.” We help thousands of seniors annually realize this goal by providing transportation assistance, opportunities for social engagement, nutritious meals, help with safe housing, and counseling during crises. But feeling alone can also mean feeling lost, disconnected from the community, or even unneeded.
Recently, two senior refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Francois, and Jerome, found an unexpected new community and a rich sense of purpose in the halls of Glenwood Elementary School. Located in a diverse, multilingual community, Glenwood was seeking volunteers to provide a positive elder influence and connect with kids in their native languages. So, they reached out to the Senior Neighbors Foster Grandparents program, which pairs Kent County seniors with students to support academic and social well-being. Francois and Jerome were already involved with the SeniorNeighbors refugee program and readily stepped up to become the first refugee foster grandparents.
“Children eagerly vie for the opportunity to work with them,” said Stephani, a first-grade teacher at the school. “The impact is heartwarming, as everyone, including students and staff, lights up with their daily presence.”
The learning experience is mutual. As the children learn from them, the foster grandpas hone their own English skills. Jerome said, “As an elder, I’m so happy to sit with the kids and to be taught by a teacher.”
Keeping up with the kids physically and mentally is challenging, but Jerome relishes the exercise of both body and spirit. One highlight of the past school year for the two foster grandpas was the graduation ceremony, where they proudly represented the Congo alongside their student friends.
Like many refugees as well as seniors in general, Francois and Jerome struggled with feelings of isolation and lack of belonging. Their success story exemplifies the power of togetherness, community, and selfless giving that are core to all Senior Neighbors programs. Please join us in forging new pathways to well-being for more local seniors with a gift.