Grand Gesture: 92-Year-Old Serves as Surrogate Grandparent for Pre-K Class
She has been doing it for 25 years.
Every kid needs some grandmotherly love.
And 92-year-old Bessie Johnson has stepped up to become a "foster grandparent" to kids in Buffalo, N.Y., for the past 25 years.
She mentors pre-school aged children as part of the "Foster Grandparent Program," which allows people over the age of 55 to be mentors, role models and friends to children with exceptional needs.
"They all come from different homes and you gotta realize they need a little more teaching and guidance because many times they don’t get that in the home," Johnson told WIVB. "By coming here, you get a chance to help them."
Three times a week, Johnson helps the children with reading and counting.
"I work with all the children really. Whenever they need help, they’ll come up to me," Johnson said.
Johnson said the benefit of working with the kids isn't one-sided. The relationships help her as well.
"I enjoy doing it because I feel like I am doing something worthwhile for my day," Johnson said. "I could stay home and look at the dust and the dirt but that’s not so interesting. I think it just helps us stay mentally and physically mobile and going."
There are more than 100 volunteers doing what Johnson does in the area and the grandparents are often assigned to build one-on-one relationships with one or two kids.
"If someone is struggling, having a grandparent in the room connected to your child is probably the best thing," said Erin Pustulka, a coordinator for the program.
Johnson said she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
"I enjoy being here helping them and I make it a better day for some child, who knows," Johnson said.
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