Michigan Association of Foster Grandparent & Senior Companion Programs

Stories of Service

Giving Time Year After Year

Dorthy Hawkins

Foster Grandparents - Wexford County

                Dorthy Hawkins was looking for something to fill her time up with, and then a friend got her to join the Foster Grandparent Program. 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 mentorship of an older adult. Dorthy went through our 40 hours of training and now almost 12 years and a total of 9,434 hours mentoring later, she is still volunteering.

                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, Michigan. 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 intergenerational.

                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.

                Dorthy had to take a year off due to family issues and said that she really saw how much she missed it. She missed interacting with the children and school staff. She was really unhappy during that time. 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. Of course when we spoke with staff you find they say they get so much out of Dorthy! Principal Matthew Brown shared “Dorthy is an amazing volunteer who works well with students and staff. 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 Dorthy has his mentor. Over time though 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!” Then he followed by giving her a hug. 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!