Stories of Service: GrandInvolve

Congratulations to GrandInvolve of Fairfax – winner of the 2017 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award for Outstanding Community Organization! For many economically disadvantaged schools in Fairfax County, getting consistent volunteers to help out in the classroom is an immense challenge. The innovative GrandInvolve program places older adults who offer their skills and talents to students directly into the area’s elementary schools. The seniors volunteer at the schools at least once a week for several hours assisting with reading and math, material preparation, library services, mentoring and kindergarten readiness. Each volunteer builds lasting relationships with the students by coming back to the same classroom each time. In addition to helping the students improve their academic success, the children benefit from the invaluable experience of spending time with older adults. In return, the seniors know that they are helping the students and enjoying their time with them. As an added benefit, those schools that were previously struggling to get volunteers, have seen a dramatic increase in parental involvement. From bringing in 1,000 books for the children to take home when they participated in evening activities to helping school staff develop an after school knitting program for 60 students, parents are visiting more often and developing closer relationships with their schools. And the GrandInvolve program is just getting started. Already in six schools with 100 regular, dependable volunteers after only three years, the program has plans to expand to all 41 Title 1 schools in Fairfax County in the next10 years. This outstanding program is the perfect example of how we can all learn something new from each other and take our communities to new heights.

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