Foster Grandparents celebrates 35 years

GLADSTONE – Foster Grandparents from Delta, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties celebrated 35 years of service in their communities at their Annual Recognition Dinner held recently at the Terrace Bay Inn in Gladstone. Lois Pinar, member of the Delta County Policy Advisory Council served as mistress of ceremony.

The activities were overseen by Policy Advisory Council members from all three counties. Evening highlights featured the traditional birthday cake representing 35 years of service.

Elizabeth Hansen, secretary of the Upper Peninsula Foster Grandparent Foundation, introduced the Foster Grandparent Program Foundation top fund-raiser winners. Also honored were the Fund Raising Sub Committee Bingo workers, Donelle Bourdeau, Sharon Reisner, Steve Stein, Peggy Visnaw, Julie Baribeau and Laurel Myer.

Mary Bunnin, program director, presented a plaque of appreciation to Ron Peltier and Menominee Kiwanis for their dedication in working with people with special and exceptional needs and hosting “Special Day for Special People” for the past 35 years in Menominee. Also honored was Magdalene Hall, who served 11 years as a Foster Grandparent in Daggett and has continued with the program by serving on the Menominee Policy Advisory Council actively serving with the program for 35 years.

The Foster Grandparent Program began in 1978 with Georgie Safford as the first director recruiting 35 volunteers from the tri-county area. Persons age 60 years and older were needed to provide one-on- one service to children with special or exceptional needs in the schools. They serve from 15-40 hours a week; receive 40 hours of orientation before being placed in the classroom, a non taxable stipend, travel reimbursement, meal each day of service, annual physical examination, excess auto coverage for volunteers driving their own vehicles, accident and personal liability insurance and recognition. Funding for this program is provided by Corporation for National and Community Service, Michigan Office for the Services to the Aging and the Upper Peninsula Foster Grandparent Foundation. The Menominee-Delta-Schoolcraft Community Action Agency Foster Grandparent Program is primarily a rural program, yet is the only area to have a Foundation in the state and possibly the nation that provides funding to a such a program.

One of the achievements of this program is the organization of the Upper Peninsula Foster Grandparent Foundation whose sole purpose is to promote the Foster Grandparent Program in the local area and to fund more Foster Grandparent positions.

The Foundation had its beginning in December, 1982. Contributions to the Foundation are invested and the income earned on the investments is returned to the M-D-S Foster Grandparent Program. To date the Foundation has awarded $197,400 to the local Foster Grandparent Program. This year, $15,300 was awarded by Georgie Safford, Public Relations Officer of the foundation presented the annual award to Bunnin and volunteer coordinator, Peggy Ramsden. This enables support for Foster Grandparents in each of the three counties.

There are currently 52 Foster Grandparents at 14 sites operating in Menominee-Delta, and Schoolcraft Counties.

Children involved with the Community Action Agency intergenerational program call these retired men and women “Grandma” or “Grandpa.” These people share their love, wisdom and values with the children. For the Foster Grandparents, happiness is opening the door to the school and the new adventures, new experiences and new insights in the lives of children. All the hugs and smiles are great rewards for the Foster Grandparents.

The special evening guests were the Foster Grandparents who work with children with special and exceptional needs. Foster Grandparents do a multitude of things – from tutoring to story reading to helping with special projects. All Foster Grandparents were honored with a monetary gift, Certificate of Congressional Recognition for their years of service from Federal Senator Debbie Stabenow, State of Michigan Special Tribute Certificate for their years of service from Tom Casperson,State Senator, and Edward MacBroom, State Representative, a 35-year Anniversary Book, and special awards.

Foster Grandparents, all serving in Delta County who were honored are:


SIXTEEN YEARS – Rovena Murphy, Charlene Groll, and Loretta Skrobiak;

FOURTEEN YEARS – Shirley Macabee and Rose Moulds;

THIRTEEN YEARS – Mary Ellen Kane;

TWELVE YEARS – Helen Creten and Ottilie Dimock;

ELEVEN YEARS – June Anderson;

TEN YEARS – Gloria Evans and JoAnn Klodt;

EIGHT YEARS – Cora Mercier and Donna Tourangeau;

SEVEN YEARS – Judy Hardwick, Barbara Heckel, Pat Schaffer, and Alneida Weissert;

SIX YEARS – Barbara Hodgins;

FIVE YEARS – Virginia and Darrell Mullins, and William Smith;

FOUR YEARS – Richard Gaffney, Dee Addis, Hope Coates, Erlamay Hardwick, and Bernice Wieciech;

THREE YEARS – Ione McGeehan, Paul Schram, and Carolyn Cagle;

TWO YEARS – Joyce Sheffer and Kathryn Pereira;

ONE YEAR – Jane Chaulkin and Carol Winling;

INTERMEDIATE (less than 675 hrs.) – Brent Kirkpatrick, Mary Jo Johnson, and Ronald Peterson.

The Foster Grandparent Program, one of the most successful and respected Senior Volunteer efforts in the United States, enriches all whom serve as well as its beneficiaries.

The Foster Grandparent Program is administered by Community Action Agency, Human Resources Authority, Inc., William Dubord, executive director 507 First Avenue North, Escanaba, Michigan 49829, and has continuous recruitment.

To sign up or for more information contact, Mary Bunnin or Peggy Ramsden at 786-7080.