09/12/04 — Grandparents honored twice

View Archive

Grandparents honored twice

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on September 12, 2004 2:06 AM

Several Wayne County schools held "National Grandparents Day" events last week, but Edgewood Community Development School celebrated twice.

Students' grandparents were invited to Edgewood for a lunch Friday.

Earlier in the week, though, students paid tribute to their "foster grandparents," senior citizens who work in their classrooms. They received cards, pictures and small pieces of art.

And while these grandparents aren't blood relations, they earn their titles five days a week, all year long.

"We'd have a fit if they tried to take away our grannies," said Anne Hurrey, the school's home-school coordinator.

Edgewood, which serves students who are either developmentally delayed or mentally handicapped, has had a decades-long relationship with Foster Grandparents, a federally funded program that is administered locally through WAGES.

The school has 15 foster grandparents. Most work in classrooms alongside teachers and assistants. They earn a small stipend -- about $100 every two weeks -- and get free lunches at the school, but in truth, it's nearly volunteer work.

"You have no idea what a difference they make," Mrs. Hurrey said. "We have a lot of opportunities for an added pair of hands."

The seniors can work with students that need one-on-one help, freeing the teacher to see to the class as a whole. They can also escort students around the school, including to the cafeteria for lunch.

Margaret Futrell said the work is enjoyable, but foster grandparents have to be attentive to the teachers' needs and stay in the background.

"We have to be on our Ps and Qs," she said.

Working with students, some of whom are profoundly handicapped, can be a trying job, Mrs. Hurrey conceded. "They need to have a love of children and patience, a lot of patience."

Edgewood's foster grandparents are Helen Brown, Lucy Cobb, Helen Dupuy, Margaret Futrell, Ethlene Goudeau, Annie Hicks, Lena Hucks, Bertha Lewis, Margaret Lewis, Virginia Lewis, Mary Lyons, Hattie Manley, Hezzie Mitchell, Elouise Puryear and Rosalie Reddick.

Two others -- Eddie Artis and Jessie McNeil -- are expected to return to foster grandparent duties at the school soon.

Additionally, Gwendolyn Barnes, Bessie Patrick and Alice Taylor are part of another federal program but work in the same support role as the foster grandparents and were part of last week's celebration.

For more information about volunteering at the school, call Anne Hurrey at 731-5970. Volunteers must complete a screening process.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities for senior citizens, call Volunteer Wayne/RSVP at 735-5151.