Sally Curtis has been a foster grandparent for Chittenden County for more than a decade. She currently works with first graders at JFK Elementary in Winooski.
“If I’m not here, the first thing they say is where’s Gramie Sal, where’s Gramie Sal,” says Sally Curtis.
She is on her 11th year as a foster grandparent through the United Way of Chittenden County program, helping kids with everything from reading to math. But don’t expect her to give away the answer.
“I guide them you know because math was a whole different story from when I went to school.”
It’s the kind of guidance the area could use more of.
“The need is definitely there and there are many teachers who call us looking for foster grandparents so we are looking to recruit more people who have the time to give,” says program coordinator Susan Abell.
Right now there’s only about a dozen foster grandparents working in Chittenden County.
“We have foster grandparents who work with kids around reading and math and who help kids who need that extra bit of love,” says Abell.
At 80 years old, Gramie Sal is one of the longest serving foster grandparents for the program and she comes in 5 days a week.
“When I am talking to others about it and trying to recruit them I say you do not have to work as long as I do,” says Curtis.
United Way foster grandparents work a minimum of 15 hours a week. Curtis says what’s motivated her to walk in every morning with a smile is the children’s progress in the classroom.
“At the end of the year you can see how much better they can read and write and do math and that’s what I get big enjoyment out of.”
United Way’s foster grandparent program is open to those 55 years old or older. Grandparents receive a small stipend.