‘Grandmother Favor’: Happiness is a choice

Published 6:22 am Monday, August 8, 2022

It’s never too late to become the person you always wanted to be. Seniors 55 and older are making a difference in children’s lives through the Southwest Louisiana Big Brothers Big Sisters AmeriCorps Seniors Program by helping students at local schools with reading, math and by sharing wisdom that could impact more than school success.

“These little kindergartners are so precious,” said foster grandparent Elaine Favor. “But as young as they are, some of them come in with a little attitude. Maybe they don’t have what other kids might have, and we work on that.”

Favor helps 4- and 5-year-olds understand a profound truth not even some adults have mastered. Happiness is a choice.

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Foster grandparents receive a small stipend, $3.15 an hour, from Americorps, according to Program Director Kathy Richard. This income is not taxable and does not affect the amount of the foster grandparent’s social security check, housing allowance, food stamps or other government benefits.

Favor, age 77, said the rewards go way beyond the stipend. She has been a foster grandparent for 10 years. Currently she works from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at a nearby school.

“I love it,” she said. “I love to see the look on the children’s faces when they finally get it. Being a foster grandparent is a lot better than staying in the house all day, and a lot better for me than staying in the house all day.”

Favor said she might have “a little hurt here or there” and have a hard time getting started in the mornings, but the aches and pains are soon forgotten after she begins her one-on-one work with one of the students.

“If I stayed home, I’d just hurt all day. Those kids help me as much or more than I help them,” she said. “Sometimes I bring them little gifts when they’ve accomplished something out of the ordinary, nothing major, a little coloring book or a little bag of chips and they put it in their backpacks and take it home. They all call me ‘Grandmother Favor.’ ”

Children Favor helped tutor years ago always speak to her when she runs into them. (She admits she doesn’t always remember their names, but she never lets on.)

Richard said that in addition to recruiting grandparents, she’s also hoping to sign up more schools who can benefit from the program.

“Principals can call me to get the details,” she said.

For more information, contact Richard at krichard@bbbsswla.org or call 337-478-5437, ext. 104.