Call for Seniors at Elementary School

Fellows Seniors - Generations Magazine - April - May 2012
FELLOWS staff (L–R): Ruth Yonamine, Ruth Hamada, Harriet Rechnitz, Esther Yokoyama

The FELLOWS (Fellowship, Education, Lifelong Learning Opportunities With Seniors) Program at Wai‘alae School was launched in the 1998-1999 school year and was based on a senior-center-within-a-school model. A demonstration project of the Hawai‘i Intergenerational Network, the program aimed to bring adult volunteers (age 55 or older) into Wai‘alae School to support the students’ academic and social growth, while providing a social setting for the volunteers.

Nearly 15 years later, the FELLOWS Program is an active and important part of Wai‘alae School. There are about 20 volunteers whose experiences as FELLOWS range from a few weeks to more than 13 years. They are in the classroom, in the library and at schoolwide activities, such as our recent Fun Fair.

Here are a few comments from Wai‘alae School teachers and their FELLOWS.

This relationship is beneficial for all of us. I rely on volunteers to support my literacy program, the children enjoy their company and I know Grandma Esther and Miss Ginny walk away from C-3 with a happy heart. We have developed a close relationship and I look forward to seeing both of them every week!

~Mrs. Gracie, Teacher


Having FELLOWS in my classroom is very important to the students and me. They provide emotional support, like having a grandparent to talk to.

~Mrs. Wakata, Teacher


I’ve always marveled at how the volunteers spend so much unhurried time with the students. I’m always in a rush, trying to reach each child and teach every piece of the curriculum. The volunteers have no such constraints and I love how that immediately puts the students at ease.

~Mrs. Ching, Teacher


When I saw an article about FELLOWS in the paper, I found the idea of working with students very appealing, something where I could contribute. So now, in my eleventh year of volunteering, I am a much happier and more fulfilled retiree.

~Barney, volunteer since 2001


It feels good to be useful. Added benefits are lots of hugs.

~Harriet, volunteer since 2000


The most rewarding experience I’ve had with this program are the unsolicited hugs I receive from students at the end of each day!

~Maedene, volunteer since 2003


Let’s just say that it’s the leg hugs that are the most important. Nobody else in my life gives me leg hugs.

~Jeanne, volunteer since 2002


Off campus, when you hear a “little voice” calling your name just to say ‘hi’ and perhaps introduce you to their parents — it’s very rewarding.

~Jackie, volunteer since 2005


The FELLOWS Program allows me to give back to the students and help the teachers. I can share with the school some of my working skills.

~Bob, volunteer since 2008

For more information, please email or call 733-4880, extension 236.


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