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Seniors citizens serving in Moniteau County schools

Seniors citizens serving in Moniteau County schools

April 10th, 2019 by Danisha Hogue in Local News

<p>Democrat photo/Danisha Hogue</p><p>Donald Fugate reads to the St. Andrews&#8217; kindergarten class. Fugate is a foster grandparent with the Central Missouri Community Action Foster Grandparents program.</p>

When young students are left at school, parents trust the employees in the building will continue to care for the children's safety.

At St. Andrew in Tipton, Donald Fugate is part of the team that manages the safety of the school's students in Tipton. He is part of the Central Missouri Community Action Foster Grandparents program.

Since 1964, the program has put retired men and women over the age of 55 in spaces to interact with children. Eligible individuals can volunteer at schools, day care centers or Head Start.

Fugate, who retired from a career in finance management, is a proud grandparent, with four granddaughters of his own.

After retiring, he was interested in a low-labor job, so he signed up for the program.

"Sitting around the house just didn't cut it," Fugate said.

Each day, he walks St. Andrew students to the Tipton Elementary School for Title I courses. Often, he can be seen assisting maintenance with small repairs or visiting classrooms.

Last week, members of the AmeriCorps and Senior Corps were recognized as part of National Service Recognition Day at the state Capitol. Rep. Steven Roberts read a proclamation thanking them for serving the community.

Kim Shelmadine, the program volunteer coordinator at CMCA, said the demand for foster grandparents in the Moniteau County area is there. Currently, three volunteers are spread between California Head Start and St. Andrews.

If more were interested, she said, the program could be placed in more schools in the area.

Foster grandparents can work hands-on with students and track their improvements or provide a comfort to students who need extra support. Last year, seven students in the county were mentored.

Volunteers gave 1,407 hours at no costs to schools.

Participants receive a stipend for $2.65 per hour for 15-40 hours a week. Mileage is also reimbursed.

"Foster grandparents has been around for over 50 years," Shelmadine said. "If they like being around children, this would be a great thing for them."

Fugate said there are many benefits to the program, including watching students grow up. The challenge, he said, is that older students don't feel they need the extra guidance. But working with the little kids gets him up each day, he said.

"Some of them are very receptive," Fugate said. "When they're in the seventh and eighth grade, they don't want any supervision then."

Kindergartners in Joyce Scrivner's class light up when they see Fugate, welcoming him with hugs and some asking him to sit with them at lunch.

"It's a place to go and make an influence on a child's life every day," Fugate said. "You can just see the smile on their faces. The rewards are very great."

Anyone interested in joining the program can contact Shelmadine at 573-443-8706.