A grandma to many

Mary Hall said her grandchildren are growing up and beyond that “young kid” stage.

It’s fine with her as she has a never-ending stream of youngsters to interact with as a volunteer in the Foster Grandparents program.

Hall, a retired nurse from Marshalltown, spends three days a week volunteering as part of the program at Fisher Elementary School. It’s something she’s done for the past 10 years.

“I totally enjoy it,” Hall said. “I love to be with kids. Being around youth is very rewarding.”

Hall helps the children with reading, verbal skills and spelling on a one-to-one basis.

“It’s uplifting to me when they learn something,” Hall said.

The program is funded by the United Way, Community Foundation and the STEP grant. In the past year, the operation of Foster Grandparents was taken over by the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa.

Anna Vaughn of the Visiting Nurse Services, said they have six volunteers in Marshalltown who meet with 55 students. She said the benefit is two-way.

“I think it’s great how it benefits the kids and the seniors,” Vaughn said.

One of the students Hall helped at Fisher this past week was Gissell Hernandez, 7, a first grader.

“She’s fun,” Hernandez said of Hall.

The volunteers receive a small stipend for their work and mileage is reimbursed.

Hall said the program helps give her a reason to get up and get going in the morning. She’ll even see many of the students she helps in public and they’ll run to her shouting “Grandma Mary!”

“They just run to you and give you a big hug,” Hall said. “It’s rewarding.”

Sarah Perry, of the Visiting Nurse of Iowa, said they are always looking for more Foster Grandparents.

For more information on the program, contact Perry at 515-238-4832.