Wanted: More Grandparents


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It’s an idea that was originally dreamed up by a woman in Florida.

Facebook makes the match, setting up young kids who don’t have grandparents with older adults who live in their area.

But this “surrogate grandparent” trend isn’t a new one here in Western New York.

Bessie Robinson, 92, from Buffalo, has been a part of the “Foster Grandparent” program for almost 25 years.

Robinson and 100 other volunteers in the area develop one-on-one relationships with children ages 3-18 by tutoring, mentoring, and offering support to kids in the Buffalo Public School program.

The foster grandparent program is actually part of a growing trend: The surrogate grandparent.

A Florida woman created one of the first known ways to connect older adults with families who need them. A match is made through social media to families in need of mentors, or just helping hands for their kids. But this, is something Robinson has been doing for decades.

Robinson said, “I enjoy doing it because I feel like i’m doing something worthwhile for my day. I could stay home and look at the dust, and the dirt, but that’s not so interesting.” She said, “They all come from different homes, and you have to realize they need a little more teaching and guidance because many times they don’t get that in the home. By coming here you get a chance to help them.”

Erin Pustulka runs the Foster Grandparent Program, she said, “If someone is struggling, having a grandparent in the room connected to your child is probably the best thing.”

Grandparents volunteer between 15 and 40 hours each week and draw from personal wisdom and experience to help children meet social, academic, and developmental goals under the supervision of teachers and center directors.

Eligible adults are age 55 and above, live in Erie County and meet income guidelines.

Benefits include:

  • Making a difference in the life of a child
  • A small stipend
  • Partial transportation and meal reimbursement
  • Volunteer insurance
  • Monthly trainings

For more information or to request an application please call (716) 896-6388.

You can learn more by visiting the Catholic Charities of Buffalo Facebook page here.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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