Michigan Association of Foster Grandparent & Senior Companion Programs

Stories of Service

Foster Grandma Plants and Idea

Janet Schmidt

Foster Grandparents - St. Clair County

Foster Grandma Janet Schmidt wanted her class of kindergarteners to do something special for April 22nd Earth Day by having a tree to plant. She started planning for it in March and was sure she would be able to get some from an agency who she heard was giving them out to some local school classrooms. She had already talked to her teacher and to the students about if they would like to do this. The other two kindergarten classes heard about it and wanted to be involved also. However, when she talked to her source for the trees she was turned down, stating they had a limited amount and only for some local 3rd grade classrooms and no other grade level.
At the Foster Grandparent Program in-service in March Grandma Janet told the FGP Director her dilemma and was so worried about disappointing the students she talked about trying to find a way to purchase them herself! The FGP Director asked her to give her a few days to see what she could do about it and then contacted Lee Westrick at Cargill, Inc., from nearby local office. Cargill, Inc. has been very supportive of the Council on Aging, Inc., serving St. Clair County (“CoA” is the local agency sponsor of the Foster Grandparent Program). Cargill has helped a few of CoA programs, projects or events over the years including the FG program, and Lee had offered previously to help with anything if they possibly could. Laura Nestle, FGP Director spoke with Lee about how Foster Grandma Janet was looking for a way to get trees for her students and explained her roadblock. Lee said that ironically, they had just ordered 1,000 trees from another program they support that they needed to distribute! He asked how many trees would be needed by the Foster Grandma for the school.
Grandma Janet talked with Julie Alley, the Principal of Garfield Elementary in Port Huron, where she volunteers at. The Principal was fully on-board with the project idea and wanted to see if it could be extended to ALL the students in the school. Students learned about what Earth Day meant and ways to help protect our planet. So in April, in time for Earth Day celebrations, 400 tree saplings were delivered to the home of Mrs. Nestle, to award to the school.
Foster Grandma Janet headed up the project at the school and with the help of the other three Foster Grandmas there, Rose Thomas, Bernice Norman and Jean Wilamowski. Together they wrapped and labeled each of the 400 saplings individually for the students. On the distribution day, FG Program Assistant Jason Crawford visited the school to take pictures of the event. He found a couple of tables were set up in a hallway at the school with the program volunteers busy as usual there. Throughout the day, one class at a time came down for each student to get a tree from a Foster Grandma.
The students were excited about getting their own tree to plant to honor Earth Day and do something meaningful for our planet on this special day. (Unidentified students from class Foster Grandma Janet Schmidt serves in; school holds photo releases & sent photos to us)