Foster grandparents honored for service Friday

Monday, April 26, 2010
Bi-County SERVICE Inc. Field Coordinator Marilyn Rimmer, left, presents foster grandparent Wanda Tyre, right, with the volunteer of the year award for Saline County at the Foster Grandparent Program annual recognition banquet Friday, April 23. (Sydney Stonner/Democrat-News)

For 38 years, Bi-County SERVICE Inc. has operated the Foster Grandparent Program in mid-Missouri, which places area seniors as volunteers and role models in schools, Head Start centers and other youth-oriented facilities.

On Friday, April 23, foster grandparents from Saline, Johnson, Lafayette and Ray counties gathered at Martin Community Center in Marshall for their annual recognition ceremony and banquet.

Two foster grandparents were named as volunteers of the year: Emma Jean Schockley, a 19-year volunteer representing Johnson, Lafayette and Ray counties; and Wanda Tyre of Saline County, who has eight years of experience with the program.

Bi-County SERVICE Inc. Executive Director Martin Tichenor said the role of foster grandparents extends beyond helping a child to read or behave better at school.

"What it's really about is hugs and sitting on Granny's lap," he said.

He continued, "There is such a special bond that is created. You sense it, but you can't really describe it."

State Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall, said that foster grandparents are more important than ever in the current economic downturn, especially as many schools have been forced to make drastic budget cuts recently.

"Having people step up and volunteer their time, that can make a big difference," he said. "You're stepping out and going that extra mile."

Representing Congress-man Ike Skelton, D-Mo., Kyle Wilkens said that volunteers might never know the full impacts of their service.

"What you folks do for those little ones is really a big deal," he said. "They're always going to be able to look back and say, 'Somebody cared about me.'"

Third- and fourth-grade students from St. Peter Catholic School sing at the Foster Grandparent Program annual recognition banquet Friday, April 23. Ruth Hartung, right, directs. (Sydney Stonner/Democrat-News)

Kirstie Nator is the state program specialist for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the Foster Grandparent Program. She offered some statistics about foster grandparents in Missouri and nationwide.

In 2009, Missouri foster grandparents served a total of 6,550 children. Throughout the nation, 29,000 seniors volunteered for a total of 24.3 million hours to serve 250,000 children in 2009.

But, Nator said, "You live these numbers day in and day out. You don't volunteer because of these statistics."

She also emphasized that service is something that can be performed by people of any age and skill level.

Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., Nator said, "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love."

During the ceremony and banquet, foster grandparents were serenaded by third- and fourth-grade students from St. Peter Catholic School, under the direction of Ruth Hartung, as well as a choir from Missouri Valley College.

After lunch, they heard a presentation from Anne Mallinson and Nancy Jackson about historic foods.

The following is a list of the foster grandparents who serve in Saline County: James Armstrong, Willie Armstrong, Edwina Arni, Mary Banks, Velma Brown, Kenneth Brown, Iris Carpenter, Glenna Coble, Maxine Coslet, Margie Drew, Jessie Edde, Gloria Evans, John Ezell, Jo Nell Fizer, Elaine Garrett, Dorothy Glavin, Bobbie Grimes, Kathryn Halsey, Deloris Heather, Hannah Henderson, Karen Hicks, Dorothy Krause, Sandra Larsen, Mildred Malan, Willard McGinnis, Catherine Miles, Lynda Narron, Clara Norman, Alice Perkins, Israel Rocha, Oralia Rocha, Beverly Saunders, Betty Scharnhorst, Sarah Sherwood, Brenda Smith, Betty Smith, Gloria Sparks, Ray Swan, LaVerne Tennill, Raymond Tennill, Wanda Tyre, Lillie Woody, Mary Wright, Lizzie Wyrick and Betty Zinn.

Contact Sydney Stonner at marshallbusiness@socket.net

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  • Great opportunity for the kids and the "grandparents". However, it is my understanding that these "volunteers" are getting paid.

    -- Posted by oldmo on Mon, Apr 26, 2010, at 2:28 PM
    Response by Sydney Stonner/Staff writer:
    From the Senior Corps website, "Some volunteers may qualify to earn a tax-free, hourly stipend." But, "some" does not necessarily mean all, or any, of the foster grandparents in Saline County.
  • Thanks for clearing that up.

    -- Posted by oldmo on Mon, Apr 26, 2010, at 4:01 PM
  • What a great program and a great asset to the children with which they work. They add a lot to the classroom and the children's lives. Thank You FGP.

    -- Posted by Pidge on Tue, Apr 27, 2010, at 10:37 AM
  • My son goes to HeadStart and he LOVES his "grandma" from school :) I love this program!

    -- Posted by MG2008 on Tue, Apr 27, 2010, at 2:34 PM
  • Congratulations to the grandmas I know who have made such a difference in children's lives (and in the lives of those who work with them). Hello from way down here in southern Missouri to Grandma Alice Perkins, Grandma Liz Wyrick, and Grandma Dorothy Krause. Hope to see you end of May for coffee???? Love to all of the foster grandparents! Becky Hill

    -- Posted by ADVK8 on Tue, Apr 27, 2010, at 8:18 PM
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