Building strength, resilience in individuals and families.

Foster Grandparent Program Gives Seniors Purpose in the Classroom

Sue Hamm

Volunteering as a Sunbeam Family Services Foster Grandparent brought Sue Hamm out of her shell, she said. Sue had spent several years battling health problems that left her feeling discouraged, depressed and lonely. Added to that was the grief of losing her son, her only child.

“I had a huge hole in my life and I knew that I could not sit in my house any longer looking at these four walls,” Sue said.

She learned of Sunbeam’s Foster Grandparent program through a friend and although she was hesitant to pick up the phone, Sue eventually did and signed up for the trainings.

“I didn’t know that volunteering would benefit me so much,” she said. “I was matched in 2013 with kindergarten teacher Marki Stringer and we just clicked immediately and I know God put me with her and those children. I’ve even followed her to a new school. ”

Sue loves the children and classroom so much that she volunteers five days a week, helping the kindergartners with such things as counting to 100, writing their alphabet and offering encouragement to them and support for Marki .

“My students benefit from her not only  academically but also socially. They know she is always here to lend a hand. She supports me in getting the absolute best out of each student. They love going the extra mile to make her smile,” Marki said.

Sunbeam’s Foster Grandparents reap rewards when they see a child achieve success in school because of the time they have invested. Sunbeam Family Services Foster Grandparents mentor and tutor children from pre-kindergarten to third grade in reading, math problems, and teach them school-readiness skills. Our program matches a senior adult, 55+, with a school in his or her own community while providing training and resources. The program serves a seven-county region, including Oklahoma, Canadian, Kingfisher, Logan, Garfield, Noble and Kay.

  • The Foster Grandparent Program is open to volunteers 55+ who can serve between 15 and 40 hours per week. Sunbeam provides training and resources.
  • The program offers a tax-free, hourly stipend and mileage reimbursement to help cover costs to income-eligible individuals.
  • Volunteers must pass a health screening and background checks.

“There are 25 children in the classroom and they fill me with joy. It makes me feel so good when they light up and say, ‘Look what I drew, Ms. Sue!’” she said. “Of course nothing will ever replace my son, but there is a part of my work as a foster grandparent that helps me with the loss. I tell people that I have a purpose to get up and get out of my house.”

To become a Foster Grandparent, call Caitlin Hixson-White at 405.609.8812, or email c.hixson-white@sunbeamfamilyservices.org.