Grandparents Mentoring Kids With Special Needs

3:44 AM, Mar 29, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - Wilson Lamar, 64, could have become a jet-setter or taken up a hobby now that he's retired.

"I can do that later on. I take a vacation here and there, but right now these kids are more important," said Lamar.

The kids he speaks of attend Buffalo Public School #84 on Grider Street.  They have various levels of developmental and physical disabilities.

While they may have a hard time moving or even speaking, when they see or hear Lamar, their eyes light up.

The children know him as "Grandpa."  He is one of the many mentors who volunteer their time as part of Catholic Charities foster grandparent program.

"It's bridging the generations. It's bringing together two groups in need. A low income senior and a child with special needs," said program director Dorothy Turchiarelli.

For the past four years, "Grandpa" has spent nearly 40 hours a week in teacher Cindy Johnson's classroom.

"He just jumps right in and takes over and helps out. That's wonderful. All of our kids need help. It's great to have Grandpa here with his patience and willingness," said Johnson.

He gets a modest stipend of less than $3.00 an hour to offset the cost of transportation, but "Grandpa" will tell you he is getting rich in a different way.

"It motivates me. It gives me a sense of worth with these children, children that can't do for themselves," said Lamar.





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