Roberta Nielsen has been volunteering, in one capacity of another, for the Uintah Basin Association of Governments’ senior service programs since the late 1990’s, and has officially been with the Foster Grandparent Program since 2000. During the last 3 decades, Roberta has assisted countless children at Duchesne Elementary in Duchesne, Utah. She has watched children grow into healthy, happy adults who start their own families and send their children to receive help from her all these years later!
Roberta once shared a story about a young boy she helped many years ago. This boy was severely struggling with reading, but Roberta would not give up on him. She worked with him one-on-one for the entire school year. At the end of the year the boy had not only caught up to his grade level, he surpassed most of his classmates!
A few years ago, Roberta was helping a teacher set-up her classroom while the students filed in on the first day of school. Roberta looked over to see a man with his young son standing in the doorway. The man instantly smiled brightly and rushed his son to Roberta’s side. The father bent down to his son and told him, “This is Grandma Roberta. She taught me how to read when I was your age, and now she will teach you!” This story is not unique to Roberta, after all, she has hundreds of success stories, but it is one of the most touching to her.
Roberta has worked full-time (40 hours per week) since she first started volunteering. As of June 30, 2020, Roberta has logged over 40,441 hours during the last 20 years! Roberta’s dedication to the children in the community is inspiring. The Foster Grandparent Program and the school would be lost without Roberta. She is an important asset in our community and a grandma to us all!
Award nomination provided by Lauren Schwanz, Volunteer Services Director for the Uintah Basin Association of Governments
About the Foster Grandparent Program:
AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers help meet the needs and challenges of America’s communities using resources provided by grants and the energy and efforts of citizens aged 55 and over. AmeriCorps Seniors is a national service program funded by AmeriCorps. Foster Grandparents serve as role models, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs. They often provide one-on-one tutoring to help children learn to read; mentor troubled teenagers; and help children who have been abused or neglected. They provide the kind of comfort and love that sets a child on the path toward a successful future.