News

Dec 4, 2015

Original Children’s Book Tells the Story of a Foster Grandparent

“Ace Gets a Grammy” Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Senior Volunteer Programs in Maine

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Foster Grandparents Program, Beverly Robbins, Volunteer Coordinator for the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs of The Opportunity Alliance, and Portland artist, Mirabai Iwanko, collaborated on a children’s book to tell the story of Maine’s Foster Grandparents.  Ace Gets a Grammy is about a student who transfers into a new school that has Foster Grandparent volunteers. Readers can follow Ace’s day as she discovers why all of her classmates call one individual in the classroom “Grammy.”  Ace settles in at her new school with the promise of a new friend. The story is inspired by the senior volunteers of Southern Maine. 


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Foster Grandparents Program, Beverly Robbins, Volunteer Coordinator for the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs of The Opportunity Alliance, and Portland artist, Mirabai Iwanko, collaborated on a children’s book to tell the story of Maine’s Foster Grandparents.  Ace Gets a Grammy is about a student who transfers into a new school that has Foster Grandparent volunteers. Readers can follow Ace’s day as she discovers why all of her classmates call one individual in the classroom “Grammy.”  Ace settles in at her new school with the promise of a new friend. The story is inspired by the senior volunteers of Southern Maine.

 

Today, 50 years after the Foster Grandparent Program began, the volunteers in this program have helped to shape the minds of America’s children and fostered intergenerational connections between the two groups that has significant benefits for both. The program has expanded greatly from its infancy when Foster Grandparent volunteers only served in homes, hospital wards, special schools and institutions, to today when they support pre-k and Headstart programs, juvenile centers, elementary schools and other educational settings. As our society becomes more mobile and the emotional and geographical gaps between children and older adults becomes wider, the Foster Grandparent program will be needed to help bridge that gap, especially for children who most need the emotional stability of a kinder, older adult.

 

About the author:
Beverly Robbins is a Volunteer Coordinator for the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs of The Opportunity Alliance. In planning ways to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Foster Grandparent Program, she felt it only seemed natural to write a children’s book recognizing the program’s primary goals of intergenerational relationships and literacy.  Since she was a child, writing has always been a hobby and her mom used to warn others to be careful, as they could end up as a character in one of her stories. A Vermont native, Robbins grew up coming to Maine to visit family, graduated from the University of Maine, Orono, and currently lives in Portland.

 

About the illustrator:
Portland, Maine printmaker Mirabai Iwanko grew up in a Siddah Yogian family where meditation was practiced regularly, influencing spiritual themes within her work. In 2008 Iwanko was granted the Visionary Award scholarship to attend Maine College of Art. There she majored in printmaking, screen printing wallpapers while also combining print with other forms of mixed media to create intensely colorful puzzle-like “three-dimensional prints.” Outside of school, Iwanko writes lyrics and sings for a two part electronic music act called Contrapposto, having performed at venues such at The House of Blues Boston, and Space Gallery in Portland. Many of the printed sculptures she builds are used as stage art pieces during her performances.


Ace Gets a Grammy will be unveiled on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at 9:30 a.m., at a meeting at the Italian Heritage Center. The media is welcome for opportunities to take photos and interview Senior Volunteer Program staff.

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