COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After the pandemic, many students had fallen behind in school, and many seniors were feeling isolated. The Grandparent Foster Program brings the two together, helping both students and seniors.

“The Foster Grandparent Program is a dual-beneficiary program that supports our seniors, which keeps them connected in their community and students who are at-risk that may have some challenges,” says program director Tameko Martin.

Teachers at Columbus City Schools pick students they feel need extra help academically or behaviorally. Each grandparent goes to one or two schools and is paired with up to five students. The grandparents involved also get a stipend.

Clarice Davies has been a grandparent with the program for five years now. She helps students at Forest Park Elementary School. “I look forward to it,” says Davies. “It gives me a sense of fulfillment, and I feel good because I feel that I’m still useful in the community.”

Davies is paired with kids in Kindergarten and second grade. She works on reading skills and helps the kids with any behavior issues. She says all students learn in different ways and have different needs. “So it’s a bit challenging, but I try to do my best to help,” says Davies.

The kids really do call her grandma and treat her like family. “They are always asking me questions like ‘Grandma what are you eating?’ ‘Grandma what did you do?’ ‘Grandma, what’s in your purse?’ I’m like a grandma,” says Davies.

The director of the Foster Grandparent Program says it makes a difference for both seniors and students. “The seniors are not isolated. There’s that intergenerational connection,” says Martin. “Students get a mentor. They can talk and share things that they may not otherwise share with mom, dad, even the teacher.”

Catholic Social Services run the program. They are looking for more seniors to be foster grandparents. To become a foster grandparent, you must be 55 or older and eligible to receive a stipend. Martin says you should also have a warm and patient disposition.

Call 614-857-1225 to sign up.