Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) is expanding its Foster Grandparent service, in partnership with AmeriCorps Seniors, a national service agency, to offer guidance and encouragement to children in northeastern Minnesota. 

Foster Grandparent volunteers are older adults who traditionally offer one-on-one mentoring in classroom and other settings to children who may be experiencing academic or social challenges. Their presence and reassurance help children improve self-esteem, social and emotional development and literacy and math skills. And, the rewards go both ways, enriching the lives of Foster Grandparents as well.

“Becoming a Foster Grandparent changed my life,” shared Peggy Schaffer, Foster Grandparent in Hibbing. “It makes me happy. I make friends. I love the teachers. I get hugs all over the place. It’s so fulfilling. You learn you can do things you didn’t think you could do.”

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began operating the Foster Grandparent Program in 2020 in St. Louis, Cook, Carlton, Lake and Pine Counties. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has virtually been on hold over the past year. Now that the pandemic is winding down, plans are to have Foster Grandparents back in the classroom in the fall. 

Statewide, Lutheran Social Service operates the Foster Grandparent Program in most of Minnesota. The organization is currently seeking volunteers who are age 55 years or older and can commit to at least 10 hours per week. 

“Our Foster Grandparents build personal relationships with children they support and make a huge difference in their lives,” said Ron Urbanski, program director with LSS Companion Services. “Personal attention from a caring adult helps keep children motivated, engaged and inspired.”

In Minnesota in 2019, 273 Foster Grandparents spent nearly 163,350 hours supporting children at 142 schools and other sites throughout the state. The Foster Grandparent service offers volunteers an hourly stipend, as well as a meaningful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people.  

“Supporting students gives our Foster Grandparents great satisfaction in knowing they help kids succeed in school and have a better chance at life,” Urbanski said. 

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota provides training to Foster Grandparent volunteers and conducts background checks to ensure safety. If you are interested in becoming a Foster Grandparent, call 888-205-3770 or visit lssmn.org/fgvolunteer

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota also welcomes other nonprofits to become partner sites to support youth in a variety of settings including public and private schools, Head Start locations, shelters, and daycare centers. To become a partner, visit lssmn.org/fgpartner or call 888-205-3770.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,500 employees and108,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service helps one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives and build community. Statewide, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults. For comprehensive information about the work of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, visit www.lssmn.org.

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