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Foster Grandparent Christmas Program

It has been another wonderful year for our Foster Grandparent Program! Therefore, this year’s recent Christmas program was the perfect opportunity for participants to reflect on the major impact that the program has had on them all. Volunteers, teachers and students alike, presented personal letters and awards to celebrate the volunteers and their memorable experiences. One touching letter, tells the story of one special Foster Grandparent, Grandma Annie*:

“Every day in the Foster Grandparent Program brings a new challenge or a new success. Sometimes, it is the small moments that will stay with us and serve as a reminder of our program’s impact. Grandma Annie is a very special Foster Grandparent who spends all of her free time helping children. When Grandma Annie is not mentoring and tutoring children all day through our program, she is helping the kids at her church and making special homemade crafts for children that she knows will not receive much for the holidays, birthdays, etc. throughout the year. Grandma Annie does so much for children and others in need that it is hard to believe that she is making ends meet on less than $7,000 a year. This year has been especially difficult for Grandma Annie. She had a very serious health issue that caused her to spend over a month in the hospital and on top of the health issues; she was no longer able to afford to live in her trailer that she has lived in for years. There were many conversations between Foster Grandparent program staff and Grandma Annie, where she cried and contemplated giving up. One day, while she was in the hospital, she had a special delivery from the children at the school where she serves as a Foster Grandparent. Grandma Annie received over 100 handmade cards from the children at this Springfield school. Grandma Annie has overcome this difficult time, she is feeling better, located housing and is back to working with children at her school. Just this month, fighting through tears, Grandma Annie shared with our group about how she overcame such a difficult time in her life. She cried and said that she read those cards over and over again in the hospital and it was the one thing that told her she needed to get healthy and not give up. Grandma Annie explained that the Foster Grandparent program is her purpose and she knows that it has saved her life. There are many successes that our program could share in regards to the impact that this program has on the lives of our seniors, but these are the types of special moments that truly help people see beyond the poverty, health issues and daily challenges and instead gives them the happiness and motivation to keep going.”

The students also presented a special gift to Foster Grandparent, Grandma Mary. They made her a “math quilt”, which displayed special messages and math problems that they have solved due to all the time that she dedicated to helping them with their math.

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We’re very excited to continue making unforgettable memories with the Foster Grandparent Program in 2015!

 

Foster Grandparent Program Celebrates Grandpa Jack!

Jack Sunderlik is a retired high school teacher and coach of forty years. Jack has been a proud member of the One Hope United Foster Grandparent Program since 2010.

Jack is known as “Grandpa Jack” by all the students and teachers that he helps each day. As soon as people meet Jack, they are instantly impressed by his passion and heart for helping children. Through his work in the Foster Grandparent Program Jack has received wonderful community recognition for all the good that he does and even though he is the last one to ask for any special recognition, we, as a program are eager to express our admiration and appreciation for the great work he does in the Foster Grandparent Program each day.

In 2012, he was awarded the Distinguished Volunteer Award at the Springfield “Good as Gold” ceremony by the Junior League of Springfield and University of Illinois at Springfield. He was also awarded the Senior Hero of the Year by the American Red Cross. In July of 2012, Jack received a letter from the First Lady, Michelle Obama, for his service and commitment to the Springfield community. For two years, Jack served the Dubois Elementary School as a Foster Grandparent and was known to all of the children as “Grandpa Jack.” Jack transferred to the McClernand Elementary School for the 2013/2014 school year and now works with special needs children in their classrooms at this school. Everywhere he goes, he is loved by the students and teachers.

Our most recent recognition of Jack’s great service was that he was chosen as one of the recipients to be honored with the 2014 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. He accepted the award at a ceremony in Springfield at the Governor’s Mansion in April. We are so proud to have Grandpa Jack in the One Hope United Foster Grandparent Program and we know he will continue to be a positive mentor for the children who need it the most!