280 Foster Grandparents Honored at Recognition Luncheon in Dover
DOVER – At a recognition luncheon Thursday in Dover, Gov. Jack Markell joined Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf in honoring Delaware’s 280 Foster Grandparents for mentoring at-risk children across the state.
Last year, Foster Grandparents served 1,700 children at 100 volunteer sites. In thanking the volunteers, Gov. Markell said their service totaled 252,865 hours, or the equivalent of 29 years. About 350 people attended the 45th annual recognition at Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center.
Foster Grandparents, who are 55 or older, spend 15 to 40 hours per week mentoring, supporting and helping vulnerable children.
“Some of the most critical volunteer hours that our older volunteers serve are on behalf of our state’s youngest residents,” Landgraf said. “As Foster Grandparents, you clearly are making a crucial difference in so many young lives.”
Among the honorees was 96-year-old Lottie Banks, who was celebrated for 30 years of service as a Foster Grandparent. She currently volunteers 20 hours a week at Community Day Nursery.
Joining Banks for special Foster Grandparent service awards were: Betty Atkinson, 20 years of service; and Ina Brokenbrough, Felix Marrero and Hazel Wilson, 15 years each.
U.S. Rep. John Carney received the Honorary Foster Grandparent Award for his work with young people, including as a mentor at Warner Elementary School, a volunteer basketball coach with the YMCA and the sponsor of a youth summer basketball league in Wilmington.
“The real recognition should go to the hundreds of Foster Grandparents around our state that dedicate their time and energy to improving the lives of young people,” Carney said in a statement. “Having mentored for many years, I can attest to the value that comes from providing care, love, and support to a young person.”
Honored Foster Grandparent locations were: Hilltop Lutheran Neighborhood Center, 40 years as a volunteer station; Children’s Corner 1, 30 years; Sussex County Orthopedic Program and St. Michael’s School and Nursery, 25 years each; Kent County Community Action Agency Drop-a-Tot, 20 years; East Millsboro Elementary School and Lighthouse Christian Academy, 10 years each; and Bear Head Start, Milton Elementary School and Rehoboth Elementary School, five years each.
Delaware has one of the oldest Foster Grandparent Programs in the country with a charter that began in 1967.
Thursday’s luncheon took place during Senior Corps Week, May 7-11. The Seniors Corps is made up of volunteers 55 and older who serve in the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, the Senior Companion Program and the Foster Grandparent Program. Together, the 3,790 volunteers served almost 1 million hours last year on behalf of Delawareans.