Several volunteers help care for the kids at the AWARE Center for Early Childhood. They’re referred by Rocky Mountain Development Council Foster Grandparent Program. It’s a program for men and women, 55 years and older, who are interested in looking after children in schools or a child care center.
The AWARE Center for Early Childhood (in Billings, Butte or Helena) just happens to be the perfect place for the Foster Grandparents. Our Butte center has three volunteers who care for the kids on a regular basis. AWARE’s newest center in Helena also welcomes a Foster Grandparent. The grandparents help out because they love being with the kids – they teach, they play – they offer help wherever it’s needed.
“They’re an amazing extra hand,” Christina Fox, Center for Early Childhood Site Manager in Butte, said. “The kids and parents love them and call them grandma or grandpa.”
The Volunteer Crew
Diana Chadek is a Foster Grandparent who helps out in the infant center. She’s a new volunteer who’s been with the program for about six months.
Diana says she was interested in finding something to do once she retired. She came to the Foster Grandparent Program after working in hotel management for 42 years. Being at the center five days a week for about 30 hours, Diana especially loves caring for the babies.
“The most important step is in the beginning,” Diana said. “I love being here and watching them progress.”
To be part of the Foster Grandparent program, all applicants go through a screening and background check. Each person is then paired with a school or center that best fits their interest and needs. They can work at the center as often as they like.
Some of the other Foster Grandparents at the Butte center also took a minute to talk about their time as a volunteer (scroll to see photos below):
Tami Isaak has been a Foster Grandparent for five years, working at the Center for Early Childhood in Butte as well as the local schools. She retired from the ER at St. James Hospital.
“I love the kids, especially the little ones,” Tami said. “They always give me a big hug.”
Dessie Martin has been volunteering as a Foster Grandparent for 20 years at local schools as well as the Center for Early Childhood in Butte. She’s a retired teacher and enjoys crocheting butterflies for the children.
“I love children,” Dessie said. “Children are the most valuable resource we have.”
If you’re interested in being a Foster Grandparent at one of the centers in Billings, Butte or Helena, you can learn more and apply here through the Rocky Mountain Development Center.