Daily Point of Light # 2677 May 10, 2004

Robert Beckett is an amazing and dedicated Foster Grandparent volunteer whose love for knowledge and community giving has evolved to a very high level of volunteering. He currently volunteers five hours a day each week as an English language and math tutor at Whitney Avenue Elementary School in Carmichael, California.

Three years ago, after receiving a three-way bypass and recuperating, Mr. Beckett needed an activity to stimulate his mind and boy. His wife of 69 years, Julia, heard about the Foster Grandparent Program and suggested he check into it. Mr. Becket checked into it and he has been hooked on volunteering ever since.

At the age of 94, Mr. Beckett volunteers in a Dale King sixth grade class with about 35 youth in a Title I school. There are many refugees from Mexico, China, Vietnam and the former Soviet Union. One of Mr. Beckett’s most significant contributions is working with the youth to teach them English as a second language (ESOL). With the direction of the teacher, Mr. Beckett utilizes a method called Total Physical Response. He put together a box of about 75 – 100 common items, words and phrases such as pencils, erasers, paper, cups, combs, candy, the days of the week, month, colors and numbers that we use in language. He quietly sits in the back of the room with a small group of 5 – 6 children. Mr. Beckett picks an item from the box and each student must pronounce the name of the item, write it down and try to use it in a sentence. He then repeats the process for a couple hours. In his desire to help them succeed, he allows them to help each other with the spelling until they learn it from memory.

One of the 6th grader teachers at Whitney Avenue Elementary School advises that Mr. Beckett is very kind with the students; he is patient, and he helps the students utilize their learning much better. He said, “I couldn’t do it without him.”

Mr. Beckett is one of 100 Foster Grandparents in Sacramento that offer meaningful volunteer opportunities for low-income seniors age 60 and older to provide love and support to children with special or exceptional needs. All Foster Grandparents receive an hourly stipend of $2.65 to reimburse some of the costs incurred while serving at least 15 hours per week. Thousands of children have been helped by Foster Grandparents in the 30 years of the program. Some of the children are mentally, physically or emotionally disabled. Others are abused, neglected or in the juvenile justice system. Each child is special, but many lack the presence of that special someone who could make all the difference in the world. Robert Beckett is one of the special people in Sacramento.