This week is National Volunteer Recognition Week.  Many area organization depend heavily on volunteers to make them go.  WJON has had numerous guests on our programs this week highlighting what volunteers do in the community.

I was joined by Sue Feliciano from the Central Minnesota Foster Grandparent Program.  She indicates in 2022 the Central Minnesota Foster Grandparent program had 168 volunteers that served nearly 80,000 hours, at 83 volunteer stations throughout Central Minnesota.  Feliciano says these volunteers tutored and mentored and touched the lives of approximately 7,556 students.

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Established in 1965, the AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program is an intergenerational program that engages volunteers ages 55+ who serve as one-on-one mentors and tutors to youth with special and exceptional needs in schools, at childcare centers, after school programs or specialty programs.

Feliciano explains what volunteers do within their program: Assisting infants at local childcare centers – extra hands to hold and sing to babies.   Assisting children with learning letters sounds and blending sounds to read words. The volunteers have many heartwarming stories about students that may have been struggling at the beginning of the year and are now fluent readers. The volunteers call these the “light bulb moments.”

photo courtesy of Sue Feliciano
photo courtesy of Sue Feliciano

Assist in transitional program where students with moderate to severe disabilities are learning independent living and job skills. I just love to watch the relationships build between the Foster Grandparent and the students. I have a Grandma who volunteers about 12 hours per week in this program. She is well loved by the students.

- Grandparent who is helping orchestra students –We know how important the arts are to students so it is nice these students get some extra help and practice.

- Grandparent who is helping in woodworking classes. This volunteer loves sharing his skill of woodworking with students. He was excited after only a few days in the classroom, he said, “Sue the kids come up and ask me questions!”

- Grandparents in preschool classrooms where they are working on school readiness skills. I was doing a site visit one day when a preschooler was in the kitchen making breakfast and the volunteer and I got ice cream for breakfast. Now who wouldn’t love that!

The St. Cloud area volunteer coordinators our holding an event Wednesday to say thank you to volunteers.  The event is being held from 2-5 p.m. at the downtown St. Cloud Library in the Mississippi Room where there will be activities, door prizes and opportunities to meet many other volunteers.

If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Sue Feliciano it is available below.



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