Emery Campbell

For the first time in my life I am beginning to have lower back spasm issues. Though only 63, I am starting to feel old likely because of the negative results of gravity along with long-time poor posture.

So as I hobbled into the banquet room at del Lago Resort & Casino last week, it was refreshing to see a large group of people 55 and older getting together to celebrate their past year as part of the Foster Grandparents Program (accompanying photo).

It is run under the auspices of the Wayne County Action Program in Lyons.

These folks were full of energy.

I want to clarify that the program is not grandparents taking in foster kids, nor are the grandparents being fostered in some way. Rather it is a program that offers seniors 55 and older opportunities to serve as mentors, tutors, and loving caregivers for children and youth, often with special needs.

Foster grandparents are great added resources to provide attention and help to children in schools, day cares and Head Start centers. Volunteers are routinely needed.

Someone who caught my attention was Emery Campbell. He is 91 years old, and those who know him say he is a full of energy. He is pictured in the bottom inset photo leaving the event.

He volunteers in a Palmyra Head Start class of 16 4- and 5-year-olds. Three teachers work the class.

The kids lovingly call Emery “Pop.” He has been involved for about eight years but has no shortage of experience and contact with children. He has four kids of his own, along with seven grandchildren and a whopping 31 great-grandchildren.

The Macedon resident still lives on his own.

If you also want to feel young at heart, try hanging out with school-aged kids every weekday. To do so you must meet income eligibility guidelines. If approved you will receive a modest, tax-free stipend to offset the cost of volunteering. Foster Grandparents serve around 20 hours a week, usually four hours a day Monday through Friday. Other benefits include reimbursement for transportation, some meals during service, an annual physical, and accident and liability insurance while on duty. Pre-service and monthly training sessions are provided.

There is great value in someone like Emery working at the same location each day. The consistency allows him to become an important member of the school team. Volunteers such as Emery often are able to have a remarkable impact on the children which can lead to gains toward academic growth and emotional development. The Foster Grandparents themselves gain significant health benefits by staying active both physically and mentally.

Sound like it might be something to consider? Then contact Gregory Peck, Program Manager at gregory.peck@waynecap.org.

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