Bob Jamieson is a grandpa in real life- and a “volunteer grandpa” for kids in the Southtowns Family YMCA’s child care programs.
The 82-year-old started volunteering with kids at the YMCA in 2016 when he stood in as a “substitute grandfather” during a Grandparents Day celebration.
He was exercising in a SilverSneakers class at the YMCA when opportunity knocked.
“I got a knock on the window and they said ‘It’s Grandparents Day and one little guy doesn’t have a grandparent who can come- would you be a fill in?’,” Jamieson said. “I enjoyed it very much- right away I was a hero.”
He began volunteering with the YMCA’s Young Explorers Camp, and also spends two mornings a week at Eggert Elementary School for the YMCA’s School Age Child Care program.
“We play foursquare and play cards,” Jamieson said. “I’m a human hall pass- the kids can’t go out in the hall without having someone with them.”
At the School Age Childcare Program, he volunteers with kids in grades kindergarten to fifth grade.
“I always talk to them the same way I talked to guys at the plant, the same way I talk to you,” Jamieson explained. “You don’t want to talk down to the kids at all.”
Jamieson acts as a “volunteer role model” for the kids he works with, Nicholas Bond, district vice president of the YMCA Buffalo Niagara said.
“There are a ton of kids who need role models, and I think Bob does that,” Bond said. “It’s just having someone who’s a little older than them that they can look up to and say, “Hey, that’s a great role model.”
The YMCA can always use more volunteers like Jamieson.
“What we’ve seen is the unemployment rate is going down- more people are out there working, which means more people need childcare,” Bond said. “We’re always on the lookout for what we refer to as ‘professional role models’- people who can work with our youngest members and provide a safe, engaging, fun environment for them.”
The YMCA can also use volunteers in other capacities, like working the front desk or at the wellness center, or volunteering for their annual campaign.
If you’re interested in getting involved, visit the YMCA Buffalo Niagara’s website or stop into any of their branches.