FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission or EOC’s Foster Grandparent program has been around since 1971 and aims to bridge generations with seniors to provide one-on-one mentoring and emotional support to underserved infants, children, and teens in Fresno and Madera counties.
“These people make a difference in the kids’ lives that they serve and they have not been able to do that and this for them is important because they miss the children so much,” said Leah Struck, the Foster Grandparent Program Coordinator for the Fresno EOC.
When the COVID-19 virus hit, much of the world turned to communication technology like Zoom—something many foster grandparents weren’t familiar with. So the EOC started a Zoom program to help the foster grandparents do what they do best.
“Since we had the pandemic, it’s been getting a little boring for me so I’m glad they started the zoom program, so I wouldn’t be so bored. I love working with children, I think it’s my calling,” said Henry Moorehead, a foster grandparent.
The EOC started the technology training program last November to help get seniors up-to-speed. Today, certificates of completion were handed out to 31 seniors who embraced the new high-tech approach.
“It’s been a change for us because we were so used to going out and doing things, but then we finally got a chance to go on Zoom, it was just like eating your first piece of candy because you got a chance to see all your old friends and everybody,” said Dean Woods, a foster grandparent.
Before the pandemic, the program served about 250 kids a year to promote literacy and academic success –that number dropped off dramatically to around 80 deserving kids.