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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Foster grandparents aid students

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pansy Perryman, a Foster Grandma, stands amidst children in Carol Montgomery's art class. The Foster Grandparents work about 20 hours a week with kindergarten through sixth grade students at Viola. Photo by Emily McIntosh
Grannies are those wonderful people who love to have you there just to visit with you and care for you. They love to make people feel special and lift them up when they feel down. That is exactly what the Foster Grandparents do at the Viola Elementary School.

The Foster Grandparent Program started about 40 years ago for people older than 60 to connect with children with special needs. Since then, the program has spread across the nation. The program started at Viola six years ago.

Currently, there are three grannies at Viola. They are Helena Olsen, Margery Holstien and Pansy Perryman. These grannies are there to offer one-on-one time for kids who need tutoring and others who have attention deficit disorder (ADD) and kids who have serious special needs. "It's an eye-opener to see some of the problems (kids) have today," said Olsen.

"We have a lot of kids with needs and disabilities," said Olsen. "(Being a Granny) is rewarding because you feel like you're contributing to these youngsters. Sometimes they don't get help at home. They don't get a hug and what they need."

Many Foster Grandparents become involved in the program because they are retired and their own children have moved away. "I needed to get out and feel that I was doing a service," said Olsen, who retired from 20 years of service in the medical field. "I needed an outlet."

Being a Foster Grandparent, or Granny, is rewarding. "Sometimes (the children) come in just to hug you," said Olsen.

Perryman, another Granny at Viola and a real-life great-grandma to six students at the school, helps Carol Montgomery in her art classroom, Stephanie Leslie's second grade and several other teachers throughout the week. "(Being a Granny) helps me because it makes me feel like I am helping someone," Perryman said. "It makes me feel good when someone runs up to me and says, 'Hi, grandma.'"

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