col SENIOR COLUMN Being a bus monitor can be rewarding experience
Each year the Rochester Senior Center participates in an intergenerational program that makes riding the school bus for the first time a much easier and less frightening experience for kindergartners.
The center works collaboratively with the Rochester School District and Express Personnel in securing the bus monitors who ride the bus with the kindergartners on their first three days of school.
The volunteers who have participated in the past have found the experience to be rewarding as well as educational.
Many meaningful experiences and sweet stories are the result of their three-day interaction.
Stories from past years include the kindergartners falling asleep on the seat and needing to be awakened in order to get off the bus at their home, the children with tears in their eyes being calmed when they (the seniors) tell them about their first day of school, and the telephone calls made from the kindergartners to their new "grandma or grandpa" as a result of the relationship they formed.
I remember the day I put my son on the school bus and felt possibly more nervous and scared then he was about the experience. Knowing that a senior would be accompanying him for the first three days of school was a huge relief and comfort.
In addition to the comfort the parents have is the assistance bus monitors provide for the driver.
Learning the route and the stops takes full attention of the bus drivers. With a senior volunteer along to attend to the needs of kindergartners, a drive can focus on the job.
Seniors not only volunteer their time but donate their income. Yes, those who volunteer to be a bus monitor earn a wage, but they turn their wages over to the center as a donation.
We are in the process of securing the 40 volunteers that are needed for the school bus routes. If you are willing to help, we welcome your call to sign up.
The following are the requirements to participate: you must enjoy working with young children, specifically 5 year olds; you must commit to riding on the bus route that you have been assigned for the three days which are Sept. 5, Sept. 8 and Sept. 9. Hours are 10 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. You will need to attend a training session which is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Aug. 27. You must also be able to get to the northwest school bus terminal and you must be willing to have criminal background check, which is conducted by the school district.
If you'd like more information or are interested in signing up, call 287-1469.
Sally Gallagher is executive director of the Rochester Senior Center.