Approximately 150 retirees who volunteer as foster grandparents in 22 south and western Arkansas counties are registered to attend the 30th annual Foster Grandparent Training Conference at DeGray Lodge in Lake DeGray State Park on June 4-6.
Event organizers said the conference is designed for participants to return to their respective neighborhoods energized to provide one-on-one assistance to thousands of children and families in need.
The conference is sponsored by UAMS Schmieding Home Caregiver Training in Pine Bluff, which will provide a free health fair and Zumba exercise classes. Also available will be classes about aging and helping children with special needs as well as barge rides, “Minute to Win It”-type fun night and bingo coordinated by volunteers from Southern Bancorp.
Thursday’s closing session will feature television and radio personality Craig O’Neill, a news anchor on “Today’s THV.” The program also will include a memorial service and awards presentation. Other sponsors include Tyson Foods of Grannis, Ark., and Horatio State Bank, as well as several contributors from Hope, Mena and Monticello.
FGP “Senior Corps” members are from Foster Grandparent Programs sponsored by Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, DeQueen-Mena Education Cooperative in Gillham and Southeast Arkansas Education Cooperative in Monticello. The three programs serve a combined total of 2,000 special-needs children in 30 public schools, nine schools for developmentally disabled children, nine HeadStart programs and five day-care centers in 54 towns and rural communities across south and west Arkansas.
Funded by the Corporation for National Service, the three Foster Grandparent Programs hosting the conference add more than $1 million to the economy annually. They provide more 258,000 hours of volunteer service per year, valued at a total of $3.5 million. The programs also generate an additional 10 to 20 percent in community support.
For more information about the Foster Grandparent Program, contact Shirley McMillan at Ouachita Baptist University at (870) 245-5195 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the project director in your area.