05/25/17 — County stands to lose grant funding

View Archive

County stands to lose grant funding

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 25, 2017 7:09 AM

Wayne County stands to lose the $755,000 in federal grants that fund the WAGES Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent programs, should the proposed federal budget be passed by Congress.

Under the current budget proposal, the Corporation for National and Community Service -- the agency which funds those programs -- would be eliminated.

The loss of the Senior Companion program would mean that some people would have to go to a rest home or perhaps be placed in a nursing home. Some of them cannot be left at home alone while family members have to work, said Delbra McIntyre, senior volunteer program manager.

Also, the state has reduced the number of teacher assistants, making the need to have Foster Grandparent volunteers in the classroom even more important, she said.

The total federal grant for both programs is just over $755,000, and a 10 percent non-federal match is required as a part of the general terms and conditions to receive the funding.

The current Senior Companion grant is $314,510 for 75 senior companions, and the Foster Grandparent grant is $441,504 for 100 foster grandparents.

Volunteers in both programs have provided 171,643 service hours to the community.

Had the volunteers been paid minimum wage -- $7.25 per hour -- for those volunteer service hours, the total cost would have been more than $1.2 million, she said.

"We are always recruiting for volunteers for both programs," she said.

Volunteers must be 55 or older. Some income criteria has to be met as well. Volunteers must serve at least 20 hours per week, and eligible volunteers may receive a tax-free hourly stipend.

"They also receive mileage reimbursement, because if they are able, they have to drive their own vehicle to the site," she said.

The purpose of both program is to give seniors an opportunity to give back to their community -- give them something to do to get out of the house, she added.

Senior companions allow other senior adults to remain independent in their homes by providing assistance and friendship to adults. That also prevents them from having to be placed in institutional facilities - rest homes or nursing homes, Ms. McIntyre said.

Senior companions also assist with daily tasks such as light meal preparation, light housekeeping, monitoring medications, and accompanying clients to the grocery store and to doctor's appointments.

Foster Grandparents support the future by serving as mentors, tutors, and caregivers to special needs children, Ms. McIntyre said.

"We work in educational settings," she said. "A 'special needs' for us does not necessarily mean that the child has a developmental disability. It may be a child who has been reared by a teenage mother, or a child being reared by a grandparent. So we consider that a special need as well."

Basically, the goal in the elementary schools is to help children learn to read, but the main goal is to assist the children in becoming productive citizens, she said.

"We feel if we start with them at a young age, if we impart positivity into them, make them feel good about themselves, that they will want to graduate and want to do better in school and then they will become productive citizens," she said.

For more information or to become a foster grandparent or senior companion, call 919- 734-1178, ext. 202, or visit the website at www.wagesnc.org.