I was thrilled to stumble upon this lovely photo essay, Foster grandparent known for hugs and nurturing. The images of foster grandmother Ruthie Cruz, age 82, with toddler Will Hardin melted my heart, but as I read more about Cruz and the reason she does this mostly volunteer work (it pays $2.65 an hour, tax-free), I was even more moved.
Cruz cares for 3-5 year olds in various day nursery locations throughout Abilene, Texas. An added bonus: her daughter, Bonnie Daye, works with her at several of the locations.
Here are 5 reasons we think foster grandparents like Cruz are awesome (and why we need more of them in the world):
- They offer children a connection the older generation. In the article, Debbie Partin, the Foster Grandparent Program’s director, explains that many of the children who come to the nursery/day centers don’t have grandparents.
- They provide love and affirmation at a critical time in a child’s life. Cruz says this of her role, simply: “I let them know that they are loved.”
- They get something for giving back (and I don’t mean the money). Foster grandparents have a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to maintain their health, a reason to stay active.
- They set an example to all generations. Foster grandparents show all of us that you can be active and enjoy a meaningful life well into your 80s, 90s and beyond, they show children that “old people” are people to adore, not be afraid of, and they show their younger co-workers that work doesn’t always have to be about the paycheck.
- They care, in the present and in a tangible way. No matter how interconnected we get through social media and technology, there is still no replacement for human touch. I don’t care how many Facebook “likes” I get; I would rather get a hug from my grandmother every day.
What would you add to the list? Tell us about your foster grandparents, honorary or familial grandparents, or special “grandfriends” in the comments below.