"This is a really great thing, and it's certainly a pleasure and a privilege to work with these grandparents," said Tom Sisler, executive director of the YMCA, as he accepted a certificate of appreciation. "What you bring to the children, to the preschoolers, to the toddlers is truly amazing. I want to say thank you very, very much."
The group has three activities each year: a Christmas party, a banquet in the spring and a bus trip in June. Following the dinner Thursday, the grandparents and their guests were treated to a performance by Sounds of Harmony, a group of barbershop singers.
In the most powerful part of the evening, Adam explained that she had several of the grandparents write an essay about what the Foster Grandparents Program means to them. A handful were then asked to read theirs to the group.
The focus of each message wasn't about the stipend they receive, though they are compensated for their time, or spotlighting themselves. What these seniors take away from their volunteer time, each one said, was making the difference in the life of a child.
"(The Foster Grandparents Program) takes the experiences of a loving grandparent and provides a child with a caring adult. That child may have difficulties in life, but they now have the consistency of one grandparent in life. This is good for the kids, good for the grandparents, good for the schools and good for Ottumwa," said Mayor Tom Lazio, who also received an appreciation certificate.
Anyone interested in learning more about the program or finding out how to qualify to be a volunteer can call Adam at 641-682-3449 ext. 103.
— Follow reporter Laura Carrell on Twitter @CourierLauraC