GRAND RAPIDS — There's a program helping students inside classrooms that you might not know about. The AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program places volunteers inside schools through the Grand Rapids Senior Neighbors.
"Grannies" and "Grandpas" help motivate students and listen to their needs. Inside East Leonard Elementary, "Granny K" is a beloved member of Mrs. Contreras 2nd grade class.
"They get a granny because some don't have them," said Katherine Higgins, volunteer with AmeriCoprs Seniors Foster Grandparent program.
Granny K is equal parts tough love, and listening. "And I'm a real grandma, so when I say, ah ah ah, they know, OK!" Higgins continued, "they love that Granny is here because sometimes they want to come to me instead of going to the teacher, just depending on what's going on. I can relay it to Mrs. Contreras, that's who I worked with last year and again this year, and she's wonderful."
Higgins is already jumping in to get to know this new class, "some of them have you know maybe home problems or whatever and they just might need a hug."
The bonds formed through the year mean a lot to the students, "saw some of my babies said they want to come back, I said no you're in the 3rd grade now, you gotta move on!"
But even more to Granny K, "Pure joy. I have grand kids, some older, some younger, and it's a good understanding that love is needed. Truly."
The AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program is in need of volunteers, especially "Grandpas!" Volunteers need to be 55+ and serve for 10 to 40 hours a week.
To get involved call: 616.771.9749
Or visit their website: