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Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs Celebrate Senior Corps Week
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Fort Hays State University Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions will join the nationwide celebration of the first Senior Corps Week, Sept. 20-24, spotlighting the extraordinary work done by Senior Corps members in communities across Kansas.
Senior Corps members who serve as Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions have made a tremendous impact on the lives of the children and frail elderly whom they serve. For more than four decades the three Senior Corps programs - Foster Grandparents, RSVP and Senior Companions - have engaged age 55 plus volunteers in serve it to meet critical needs. While facing many challenges, seniors are stepping forward to help solve problems and strengthen their communities by engaging in activities that will make a difference in the lives of their neighbors and friends. Last year, nearly 500,000 Senior Corps volunteers provided 98 million hours of service valued at more than $2 billion to sponsor organizations across the country. 
Fort Hays State University has sponsored the Foster Grandparent Program for 13 years and the Senior Companion Program for 36 years.  In 2009, two hundred Foster Grandparent & Senior Companion volunteers served in fourteen counties, 34 communities, in western Kansas. These volunteers provided over 159,700 hours of service to children and frail adults.
Foster Grandparent volunteers provide one-on-one attention, read to and with the children, help with school work and serve as positive role models.  They serve in schools, libraries, pre-schools and day care centers. These volunteers are 55 years of age and better and are willing to commit at least 15 hours each week helping children.  They serve as tutors and mentors.
Senior Companions, 55+, provide companionship and support to the homebound elderly, many of whom are isolated and live alone. They help their clients with daily living tasks such as assisting with light household chores, meal preparation, helping with shopping and errands, paying bills, making wellness checks, and providing transportation for appointments and errands.  
They also provide respite care for family caregivers. Companions may also provide personal support to persons living in assisted living and long term care facilities.  The help from a Senior
Companion allows those served able to remain living in their own homes independently and with dignity. 
For their commitment of time, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions are entitled to benefits including a tax-free stipend of $2.65/hour to enable them to serve without cost to themselves.  Other benefits are a travel allowance, accident and liability insurance, training, a meal when feasible, a uniform, and recognition.
The Programs are sponsored by Fort Hays State University and primarily funded by the Corporation for National & Community Service, Washington, DC.  Funds are also provided by Ellis, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Trego, Gove, Phillips Counties and the Cities of Ellis, Victoria and WaKeeney. 
Senior Corps Week, September 20-24 celebrates the extraordinary commitment and contributions made by Senior Corps volunteers and recognizes their critical impact on addressing tough challenges in our nation.  For information about the Programs at Fort Hays State University, call 785-628-5809