Michigan Association of Foster Grandparent & Senior Companion Programs

Stories of Service

2022 Michigan Volunteer Community Action Award

Grandpa Jim Solak

Foster Grandparents - Osceola, Mecosta, Montcalm, Ionia

Congratulations to Foster Grandpa, Jim Solak, for receiving the 2022 Michigan Volunteer Community Action Award at the Day at the Capitol on May 19th.
Jim has been an AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteer with EightCAP since 2018 where he serves 28 hours a week as a supportive mentor for preschool children in Head Start classrooms.
Each day, Grandpa Jim comes to the classroom and provides kind and gentle encouragement for 16 children to be successful in social and school readiness skills.
Following are a few excerpts from Head Start teachers and staff who felt it was important to share how Grandpa Jim has affected change in the classroom through his service:
"His passion for the classroom and kids was amazing to watch. It was wonderful to watch the boys gravitate to Grandpa Jim and have a positive male role model to teach them new things."
"He brought so much love and joy to the classroom by telling jokes with the children, bringing in his dogs to celebrate our pet study, to even flying wooden airplanes with them. He always had the children's best interest at heart and worked hard to build a solid relationship with them."
"He was a very kind and thoughtful with the children, we love and appreciate him."
"Jim always put the needs of others before his own, helping children when they ask for help, and resourceful to staff when needed. He makes each day a little brighter for the children and for the staff."
"Jim doesn't actually realize the magic he imparts upon all who interact with him. He would argue that he has received much more from his volunteer experiences than he gives. The AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent Program has offered Jim a chance to share his gifts with the world in his retirement and make a difference to the lives of the children he unconditionally loves and cares for. Grandpa Jim's mark on this world through his service will span generations because of the time he has chosen to invest in his community."
We couldn't have said it better about Grandpa Jim. He is an amazing individual and truly deserves this honor. Keep up the great work, Grandpa!