Carole Bechtol, or “Grandma Carole”, is a member of the Volunteers of America (VOA) Foster Grandparent Program. This program matches volunteers with at-risk children and youth where they can build relationships with students, teachers, and parents while acting as a role model in the classroom. Grandma Carole learned about Foster Grandparents in 2009 when someone she worked with gave her a postcard advertising the unique program. She swears it was divine intervention because she has been a loyal Foster Grandparent classroom volunteer ever since!
Grandma Carole currently volunteers at the Morgridge Academy and has been placed in classrooms of all ages ranging from K-8th grade and has tutored in math, history, literature, and even French as she was a teacher in France for 30 years. Grandma Carole has many life experiences that she is able to share with her students, to name a few, she received a full-ride scholarship to study Arabic in Egypt, she lived in France teaching English for 30 years and later joined the Peace Corps in Armenia. She has no plans to slow down, Carole says, “I love to teach and learn and I will keep doing so until I can’t anymore.”
Grandma Carole’s favorite part of volunteering is learning about the students she tutors and mentors and watching them grow and eventually thrive despite any tough circumstances that have come their way. “They all amaze me each and every day, there is one little boy who wants to be a lawyer when he grows up and when asked why he says, ‘to make lots of money and help my mother’, these students teach me just as much as I teach them.” Another child was so intrigued by French that he created an entire presentation on France and included Grandma Carole in the presentation. This intergenerational bond that is created can sometimes be the only time students interact with a ‘grandparent figure’. Not only do the Foster Grandparents bond with the students, but also the staff, Carole speaks of the Morgridge Academy teachers with the highest regard and knows them all by name, as they know her.
More seniors are needed in the program sponsored by Volunteers of America Colorado. To be part of the program individuals must qualify by age and income and love to work with children. Volunteers are interviewed, oriented, and must pass a thorough background check. They receive a small non-taxable stipend for their participation. To learn more and to get involved, call Volunteers or America at 303-297-0408 and ask for the Foster Grandparent Program.
The Foster Grandparent Program is part of Senior Corps, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service. CNCS engages millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year.
ABOUT VOLUNTEERS OF AMERICA
Volunteers of America is a national, nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Since 1896, our ministry of service has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including the frail elderly, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, homeless individuals, women in need, and veterans and their families. For more information about Volunteers of America, visit voacolorado.org