P50+: A lasting legacy of learning
Sep 20, 2023, 3:15 PM | Updated: 3:17 pm
OGDEN, Weber County — A photo of Grandma Stella could be mistaken for anyone’s grandparent, but in a real sense, Stella is everyone’s grandma, at least in northern Utah.
“She’s been making a big difference for a couple of decades now,” said Britta Stumpp, volunteer coordinator of Foster Grandparents Volunteer.
And the proof is in the reading.
Like thousands of volunteers nationwide who work through the Americorps Foster Grandparent and other programs, it’s hard to gauge Grandma Stella’s contributions. After all, she puts in almost 40 hours a week and has been going strong for 23 years.
“They’re invaluable in helping us reach and relate to other seniors. They’re the keystone to our whole organization,” said Heidi Wade, director of the Senior Companions Program
Senior Companions Program is a center that helps older Utahns connect with other seniors.
“Having somebody that is their age, that has the same interests and has the same goals as them. It’s very important to us,” Wade said.
There’s also a lot of wisdom, knowledge, and time that benefits the younger generation, too.
“The kids really need a caring elder to come in and help them get caught up with their reading. And a lot of times, it’s just nice for them to have a caring older person,” Stumpp said.
These caring literacy tutors work across five school districts from the Idaho border to Woods Cross. And the schools could always use more volunteers.
“They’ll be like, ‘Send us some more,’ and we’re like, ‘We would love to… we just need to find more,” Stumpp said.
The volunteers help. They teach. They serve and love students who otherwise might not have anyone to help them learn to read.
On one out-of-state trip recently, Stella saw firsthand what her dedication has meant as a stranger approached.
“Grandma Stella! You taught me how to read! Cause she’d worked with him when he was in like 2nd grade, and he remembered her and was like, ‘You changed my life,'” Stumpp said about a recent interaction with Stella.
Stella is being honored with the “Andrus Award” from AARP, which recognizes outstanding volunteers in our state each year.
To learn more about the volunteer opportunities offered through the Americorps program, visit the Weber Human Services website.