PROVIDENCE – The Federal Hill House, located in the heart of Federal Hill in Providence has hosted a Foster Grandparents Program for over thirty years. Like all programs at the Federal Hill House, the Foster Grandparents Program evolved from a need within the community. A Corporation for National Services program, it enables all ages and backgrounds to make their communities safer, healthier and stronger through service.
Seniors age sixty and older serve as mentors, tutors and caregivers for children and youth with special needs, offering emotional support to abused and neglected children. There are currently eighty-nine seniors participating in the program, primarily throughout greater Providence.
The Children’s Workshop, a local childcare provider, has collaborated with the Foster Grandparents Program in order to host seniors at their schools in Providence and Central Falls. They are able to provide these services through The Children’s Workshop Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded to improve the lives of families in the communities served by The Children’s Workshop, Inc.
The children are very attached to their honorary Grandparents. Franciso Taveras has been volunteering with the Federal Hill House and The Children’s Workshop of Providence since 2009. He is the uncle of Mayor Angel Taveras and has always been highly involved in the Providence community. Tracy Martin Turgeon, the Vice President of Operations at The Children’s Workshop says, “The staff and children love him. Every morning you can hear children either saying, ‘Hola Abuelo!’ or, ‘Good Morning Grandpa!’”
Taveras assists with the preschool children by setting up projects and lessons, building birdhouses and playing board games. He reflects, “I like doing anything for the children and staff. I help clean up, set up things, teach children good work ethics. Whatever anybody needs me to do I am willing to help out.”
The Federal Hill House also provides a senior volunteer for The Children’s Workshop in Central Falls. Connie Seminick has been visiting the center since May of 2013. Turgeon comments, “She is the most dedicated volunteer I have ever met. She comes in everyday no matter if there is rain, sleet, snow or summer heat. She is always there and always in a positive mood.”
Seminick volunteers in the infant classroom at The Children’s Workshop. She enjoys rocking and feeding the babies, playing and putting them down for naptime. “They love you like a mother hen,” Seminick shares. “It’s better than sitting at home. I get to go out, help the children and become more involved in my community. It keeps me active.”
Seminick and Taveras both completed CPR trainings and professional development trainings just like any other employee of The Children’s Workshop. They spend about twenty-five hours per week volunteering. They receive a modest tax-free stipend, reimbursement for transportation, meals during service, annual physical exams and accident and liability insurance while on duty.
The Foster Grandparents Program enables participants to share a lifetime of experience with children, and to support youth and build bridges across generations.
Seniors who are interested in volunteering with the Federal Hill House Foster Grandparents Program should call 401-421-1095 or 401-421-1060.
For more information about Federal Hill House, visit www.FederalHillHouse.org. They are located at 9 Courtland Street in Providence, RI. Federal Hill House focuses on helping people help themselves. Staffed by both paid, highly trained workers and by volunteers, Federal Hill House is dedicated to enabling people from throughout the Greater Providence area achieve their potential by removing obstacles that hinder them.