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National Service and Inclusion Project

Inclusion: The active engagement of people with disabilities as service members in all levels of national and community service

Visit NSIP's sister site The National Service to Employment Project (NextSTEP)


Photo of Gene Seidel Participants: Gene Seidel

Program: Union-Snyder Foster Grandparent Program, Pennsylvania
Service: Foster Grandparents assist in classrooms and programs for children with special and exceptional needs.

Interview with Gene Seidel, December, 2000



1. INTRODUCTION:             real audio clip icon

GENE SEIDEL: My name is Gene Seidel and I work at Kelly Elementary. And I have two volunteer jobs over there. The first is in the morning before school and it's called SAC program. That's a program where the parents bring their children over there before school because they got to work. So I stay in there until the school bell rings and then I go into the first grade. I have 17 kids over there where I help them all out. Whenever they holler for help I go to them. That’s about the size of it.

EMILY: For How long have you been in the program?

GENE SEIDEL: Since 1991, almost ten years.

EMILY: What made you join the Foster Grandparent program?

GENE SEIDEL: When I came home from Florida--I lived in Florida for twenty years-- I developed a lung problem and I didn't want to stay at home and do nothing, so I decided to help the kids out. So that's what I've been doing.

I don’t like to talk about my problems because I'm very independent. I don’t like anybody to help me. That’s it. Period.

2. DISABILITY AWARENESS:              real audio clip icon

EMILY: So have you had any challenges as a wheel chair user getting into the school and doing the volunteer work that you've been assigned as a Foster Grandparent?

GENE SEIDEL: Well, I have to pick a school that has provisions for a wheelchair. See, I have an electric wheel chair; and I can't use the electric chair because there are no provisions for driving me back and forth to school. So I use this {manual wheel chair} because this can folded up.

3. ADVICE TO PROGRAMS:              real audio clip icon

EMILY: I'm wondering if you have any advice or feelings about how they might increase the participation of people with disabilities?

GENE SEIDEL: Just give 'em a chance and see what they can do. Some people are worse off than I am, and they should have the opportunity to see what they can do. And take it from there.

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©The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a training and technical assistance provider on disability inclusion. NSIP partners with the Association on University Centers on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Association on Higher Education and Disability and National Down Syndrome Congress to build connections between disability organizations and all CNCS grantees, including national directs, to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service.