Foster Grandparents and Senior Companion Appreciation Dinner - October 2017. 

Foster Grandparents Senior Companions Luncheon

San Francisco, CA (Friday, October 20, 2017) — Felton’s Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions were honored at the annual luncheon. The United Irish Cultural Center was filled with warm greetings, music, and photo props that inspired smiles and laughs at the joyful celebration. Throughout the luncheon, pictures of the volunteers were projected for all to appreciate.

Senior Division Director Cathy Spensley kicked off the program with welcoming remarks; President and CEO Al Gilbert congratulated the volunteers and staff on their outstanding achievements during the last year; Felton Board Chair Amy Solliday and Board Chair Emeritus Mike Hofman shared inspiring remarks; Foster Grandparent Volunteer Donna Robblee represented her peers with heartfelt words; and San Francisco Deputy Director of Neighborhoods Ashley Cheng brought congratulations on behalf of the city. Kham Lam translated for all speakers.

The Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Luncheon has a special place in Ms. Cheng’s heart because years ago, her daughters benefitted from the wisdom and compassionate care that Foster Grandparents brought to their classrooms. She was excited to greet the volunteers who contributed to her daughters’ development, and it has become a recent tradition for her to speak at the luncheon. Hear her words of appreciation here.

Another great tradition of the luncheon is volunteer recognition and raffle prizes, Tieu Ly, program director, Lynn O’Leary, director of programs for the senior division, and Cathy Spensley created lively suspense during the that portion of the event. While a pin drop could be heard as people checked their raffle numbers, once a winner was announced, thunderous applause and cheers for each filled the air. Staff members Eileen Kincaid and Marianne Yusavage beamed as the volunteers gleefully claimed their prizes.

Felton’s Foster Grandparent Program was one of 20 original national pilot projects. Limited income, mobile seniors, ages 55 and older, receive small stipends for providing support services for 20 hours a week to children with special needs. Seniors serve in classrooms, pre-schools, and children’s units in hospitals. They develop one-to-one consistent relationships with the children, by tutoring, mentoring, and providing emotional support. This year, 67 Foster Grandparent Volunteers have provided 56,465 hours supporting 630 children and youth at 28 Foster Grandparent Volunteer stations. Two sisters fondly known as “Grandma Connie” and “Grandma Alicia” note that volunteering has enhanced their lives in the video here.

The Senior Companion Program, also founded in the late 60’s, is a program through which limited income, mobile seniors provide companionship services 15-30 hours per week to frail, isolated, and homebound seniors, ages 55 and older. Participants serve in adult day health centers and senior centers, engaging at-risk seniors in on-site activities. Senior companions are supervised by case managers. In the last twelve months, 27 Senior Companion Volunteers provided 22,476 hours by supporting 196 seniors and adults with disabilities at 16 volunteer stations.

If you know of someone who is interested in volunteering, please contact Tieu Ly at

Felton Institute was founded in 1889 with the mandate that children and families in crisis must have access to social services and resources in order to help them build upon their inherent strengths and develop self-sufficiency. Its name honors executive director Dr. Katharine “Kitty” Felton whose innovation at the turn of the 20th century greatly expanded social services throughout San Francisco and garnered national acclaim. For more than 127 years, Felton Institute has been a leader in innovative mental health and social service programs for all.

For More Information, contact: or (415) 474-7310 ext. 458.