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Utah County Senior Volunteers honored for community service

PROVO, Utah (September 16, 2011) -- Grandma Parker is at school every morning by 8:00 a.m. Since school doesn't start until 8:30, she spends her extra time reading books from the school library -- three or four a week.

"I am 90 years old," said Leah Parker, who goes by "Grandma" at school. "I don't go on dates, so going to school with these kids keeps me from getting bored."

Grandma Parker is one of 80 Utah County Foster Grandparents who donate time each week to mentor and tutor children and youth in community organizations such as schools, hospitals and youth centers.

"How many people can say they visit seventy grandchildren every day?" said Grandma Dixie Walsh, another Foster Grandparent. "I love it. It keeps me young."

Foster Grandparents like Parker and Walsh will be honored during the Second Annual National Senior Corps Week, September 19th through 23. Last year the Utah County Foster Grandparent Program provided services to 34 facilities, making a difference in the lives of more than 180,000 students in the community.

Community members are invited to attend the Utah County Commission meeting on September 20th to hear the Board of Utah County Commissioners proclaim September 19th through 23, Senior Corps week in Utah County. There will also be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 8:30 a.m. the same morning to reveal two new vans the Foster Grandparent Program will use to transport seniors to and from volunteering opportunities.

"These seniors deserve to relax and let us serve them, and yet they go out every day to serve others in our community," said Cara Moody, Utah County Foster Grandparent program assistant. "When I grow up I want to be like them. I can't sing the praises of our volunteers enough."

According to Grandma Dixie, The Foster Grandparent Program benefits not only those receiving services, but also the lives of the senior volunteers.

"The kids make you feel so loved," Grandma Dixie Walsh said. "I can't go anywhere in my school without someone yelling, 'Grandma Dixie, I love you!'"

Moody said when one Foster Grandma had to miss class due to illness, she received a note from a student which read, "Dear Grandma, I missed you. If you die please call me." Another Grandma underwent open heart surgery, but battled through physical therapy because she wanted to get back to school.

The Utah County Foster Grandparent Program is a member of the National Senior Corps, a division of the U.S.A. Freedom Corps and the Corporation for National and Community. Foster Grandparents are income eligible seniors, age 55 and older, who provide mentoring, love, assistance and support to youth in local schools, day-cares, development centers and residential treatment centers. For more information about the program or volunteering opportunities call Cara Moody at 801-851-7784, or visit the Senior Services Office located in the Utah County Health and Justice Building.

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Senior Services