Stories of Service
Foster Grandparents - Kalamazoo County
Her name is Patricia Jones; but it’s “Pat” to her friends, and “Grandma Pat” to an extended family, hundreds of children, and countless people who have been touched by her caring hands and heart.
Born in a small town in Ohio, Pat grew up along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Covert and South Haven. She moved to Kalamazoo in the mid-70s to raise four children as a single mom. She now has seven grandchildren and a great-grandson.
She later settled once again in South Haven to be close to family and where her volunteer service began as a AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparent volunteer. Pat’s community volunteer work also included South Haven, Bangor, Bloomingdale, and Maple Grove public schools, Tri-County Head Start, as well as a Bangor migrant education and development project.
Pat has also been a volunteer with American Red Cross Blood Drives and a Foster Grandparent Volunteer with the Kalamazoo Drop-in Childcare Center after returning to the area in 2019.
Pat says her moniker, Grandma Pat, got its start with the young school kids as she worked with them in the cafeteria, classroom, and book exchange. As a smile spreads across Pat’s face, she says, “I just love kids.”
No doubt they love her, too. Pat says as her children grew and moved on, working with children, especially pre-school and early elementary ages, as a volunteer, put joy back into her life. For some of her school involvement, Pat received a small stipend—but she used that money to purchase little gifts, cards, and candy to put into holiday bags she would distribute to the children on various holidays–Valentine’s, Halloween, Christmas, etc. Yes, to all those children, they had a very special Grandma Pat—now happy memories of someone who loved them as much as they loved her.
The recent COVID pandemic put a hold on a number of school programs. Pat’s inner drive to be doing something positive for people, led her to become an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer with the Senior Companion program at Milestone Senior Services in Kalamazoo—visiting three seniors in their homes four days a week.
As a Senior Companion, she got the inspiration to do arts and crafts during her visits. Always generous, Pat purchases supplies on her own. She says it gives her great joy to see these seniors just beam as they realize how much fun it is to be creative.
Pat’s life and outlook is encapsulated when she says there is no greater pleasure than making people (young and old) joyful and seeing a smile on their faces. If you ever have the opportunity to meet Grandma Pat, that warm, heartfelt smile is ever-present on her kind and caring face.
Finally, Pat is in the process of becoming a foster parent and looks forward to raising yet another fine individual with a future of success and happiness. What a lucky kid!