Tami Isaak doesn’t just show kids a duck. She goes, “quack, quack, quack,” to help them learn and grow as part of her volunteer job as a foster grandparent at Butte’s Early Head Start Center. She takes pride in coming up to the Center to help out wherever she can.
“We love volunteers, we love people coming in to rock our babies, to read to our children, even just to pick up our hallways, help us with laundry, our yard work, to play with the kiddos. We love community members to just come in and help us,” Christina Bugni, Early Head Start education coordinator, said.
Tami enjoys being able to watch the babies grow. When many of them first come to the center they can’t roll over, crawl or talk. Over time though, they pick up new things.
"When you’re reading to them, their eyes are so big and they’re concentrating on you. And it’s so much fun because it brings joy to you because they’re picking up things,” Tami said.
The foster grandparent community is a big part of Early Head Start. The volunteers help feed babies and rock them to sleep.
When talking about the program Tami said, “It’s very important to me because it gives me something to look forward to every day because, being retired it gets me up and gets me out of the house, it keeps me moving and keeps me young.”
Foster grandparents can spend more time with the kids, one-on-one, more so than the teachers because they have other duties. The foster grandparents can engage with and spoil the kids while taking some of the load off the teachers.
“It would be amazing if every classroom had a foster grandma. That’s just one more baby that can get rocked,” Christina said.
Even with only eight kids in a classroom, with two teachers, you can only rock one or two babies at a time. It really is helpful.
“And that’s what the greatest thing is about being here — you really do make a difference,” Tami said.
This is one part of a series highlighting the history and impact of Early Head Start in Butte over the last 25 years. If you’re interested in volunteering or making a donation in support of Early Head Start click here. For more information, please contact Bryon Higgins at email@example.com or 406.563.8117.