Date of Award

Fall 10-9-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Bridget Hayden

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Dr. Marie Danforth

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Dr. Allison Formanack

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 4

Dr. Anna Porter

Committee Member 4 School

Health Professions


Volunteer service is associated with self-reported health improvement by older adult volunteers in AmeriCorps Senior programs. However, little is known about how specific chronic diseases and mental health issues affect Foster Grandparents, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s influence on volunteer activities for older adults. Using Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, this study outlines the structural influences of the Foster Grandparent program on volunteers’ motivation for volunteering, mental and physical health status before and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and current household food security status. The study utilizes a survey, which was distributed by the National Senior Corps Association and the National Association of Foster Grandparent Program Directors, and five regional focus groups, which highlight the volunteers’ motivation and personal experiences. The survey was adapted from the NHANES and translated into Spanish. The findings of this study suggest that volunteering in the Foster Grandparent program may maintain physical health and improve mental health of the volunteers. Utilizing an intergenerational program model may provide opportunities for older adults and children to adopt a “healthy habitus to prevent or manage chronic disease and food insecurity.