RSVP+ looking for foster grandparentsIt’s common for Eva Brimmer, 69, of Belfield to hear her name being called while shopping. “The kids holler, ‘Grandma Eva!’ — that’s what they call me,” she said. “I hear it from the kids all the time.”
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
It’s common for Eva Brimmer, 69, of Belfield to hear her name being called while shopping.
“The kids holler, ‘Grandma Eva!’ — that’s what they call me,” she said. “I hear it from the kids all the time.”
Brimmer has nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren of her own, but she is recognized in Belfield as the school’s grandma. That’s because Brimmer is a foster grandparent through the RSVP+ Foster Grandparent Program.
She started working in the program two years ago.
“I saw an announcement in the school and thought it might be something I’d like,” she said. “I love it. I help the kindergarten, first and second grades with math, reading and their art work — all kinds of odds and ends the teacher needs help with.”
A volunteer needs to have a lot of patience and love little children, she said.
“You have to be able to think like a little kid — you can’t think like an adult — that’s not going to work,” she said. “You have to think at their level.
Brimmer praised the teachers that she helps in the classroom.
“If you don’t have a teacher’s support, it doesn’t work too well, and I have 100 percent of the teacher’s support — they are just wonderful,” she said.
Brimmer is paid a stipend of $2.65 cents per hour and is asked to work a minimum of 20 hours a week. She comes to school at 9 a.m. and stays until around 3 p.m.
Brimmer enjoys her summers, but still is surrounded by children. This week, she is helping at the Bible school at the Belfield Lutheran Church.
RSVP+ is the sponsor of the Foster Grandparent Program in western North Dakota. The program recruits individuals ages 55 and older, who live at 200 percent above the poverty level or less, as literacy volunteers. They are asked to serve 20 to 40 hours per week in an elementary classroom, program specialist AJ Hitchcock said.
“As our elementary schools are experiencing unprecedented growth, this program offers students an opportunity to become more proficient and confident in their reading skills,” she said. “At no cost to the school, another adult in the classroom can work with one-on-one or in small groups of students on their literacy skills.”
Because of the local cost of living, this program is another opportunity to assist low-income seniors, she said.
The volunteer receives the tax-free hourly stipend, as well as training, transportation costs, vacation leave, sick leave and supplemental accident and liability insurance while working.
“They build great relationship with the kids and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the teacher to have another set of eyes in the classroom,” Hitchcock said.
Once an application has been submitted, the applicant will go through the interview process and a back-ground check is completed.
RSVP+ is a federally and locally funded program that connects agencies with needs to volunteer with skills, Hitchcock said.
Previously known as RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program), the plus signifies the elimination of age requirements. Its mission is to invite individuals of all ages to enhance personal growth, develop leadership skills and meet community needs through volunteer service opportunities.
For more information about the Foster Grandparent Program and the RSVP+ program, call 701-227-8421.