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Labor and Economic Opportunity

Foster Grandparent Provides Nearly 10,000 Hours of Mentoring

Mentoring month

Dorthy Hawkins was looking for something to occupy her time when she joined the Foster Grandparent Program.

But it turned out to be something much more than just something to do. Almost 12 years and a total of 9,434 hours mentoring later, she is still volunteering.

The Foster Grandparent Program is a Nation Wide program for seniors 55 years and better to volunteer and serve children that are at risk or have unique needs and that benefit from a mentor-ship of an older adult.

Dorthy has served at her time at schools and summer programs in Wexford County, Michigan. She currently serves the students and staff at Forest View Elementary in Cadillac. She has always had a love for children and this has given her a way to give to the youth in her community. She helps children that are struggling with subjects in school, helps with reading and is a great mentor who shows them a caring relationship that is inter-generational.

Dorthy say that she continues to volunteer each and every year because it gives her a purpose in her life. It gives her a reason to get up every day and she shared that it keeps her young! She looks forward to seeing the students and helping them to learn. She shared that it made her feel so proud when she has seen the children’s scores in testing improve after she has worked with them. She gives so much more than knowledge to them, she also gives them support, friendship and confidence in themselves. 

After taking a year off because of family issues, she missed it greatly. She missed interacting with the children and school staff. She was so thankful to return and loves the school she is at.

Dorthy said she feels that she gets so much more out of mentoring then she feels she gives.

“Dorthy is an amazing volunteer who works well with students and staff,” said Said Principal Matthew Brown. She has been helpful working with individual and small groups to help raise reading ability. She has helped make connections with a few students to give them a support person to trust.”

I asked Dorthy to think of a moment that is memorable to her. She shared a story about a 1st grade boy that she has been working with this year. He has a cochlear implant in one ear and is almost deaf in the other. He was a bit standoffish when first having her as a mentor. He warmed up to her quickly and would be full of smiles when working with her. Dorthy had to miss a few days at school and was not able to see him for that time. When she came back to school the next week the boy came up to her, grabbed her face and said; “Grandma Dorthy where have you been when I needed you!”

She said that it made her proud to know that he counts on her and had missed her those few days.
Dorthy is a wonderful volunteer who cares about all those that she serves. She is a caring person who really is making a difference each day she continues to volunteer and mentor youth. We are so thankful to have Dorthy as a volunteer!

This story was submitted by Ashley Redinger with Catholic Human Services. Submit your own mentoring story and you could win $200. Or learn how to become a mentor!