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Program announces Foster Grandparent of the Year

Thursday, the Foster Grandparent program that serves Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties recognized the Foster Grandparent volunteers who make it all happen with the annual Recognition Banquet.

The program, which boasts 90 volunteer grandparents who help more than 200 children throughout the service area, is a nonprofit volunteer organization that places senior citizens 55 and older in mentoring and tutoring relationships with children with special or exceptional needs. Although foster grandparents are each assigned certain children to assist, they are often beloved by the entire class in stations where they are placed. This is evidenced by the letters of nomination for Foster Grandparent of the Year, written by the teachers the volunteers work with, like the letter written for Annie West, who helps at the Franklin County S.P.A.N. Program.

“Mrs. West is an enormous asset to our program,” wrote classroom teacher Mindy Harris. “Mrs. West deserves this award for giving of her time and beautiful qualities she represents.”

These words were written of Peggy Boyd Benn, who Dawn Shotts at Red Bay High School said has “strong work ethic and a genuine love for children.”

“She is very conscientious and greets each day with a small and kind words for all,” Shotts said. “I cannot say enough positive statements about Peggy.”

Benn received the Serving Others Award.

From West Elementary, Olean Warhurst was lauded for her positive attitude and enduring strength.

“Ms. Warhurst is the type of person who brightens everyone’s day,” reads the letter written by Lauren Taylor. “I never have to ask her to help … she volunteers immediately to help with whatever it is I am doing. No matter what she is doing, Ms. Warhurst never complains or becomes discouraged when a child is struggling; she simply keeps on keeping on.”

Other Foster Grandparent of the Year nominees, all of whom were honored with Volunteer Rose Awards, were Barbara Robins, Sharon Fincher, Julia McKay, Olivia Simmons, Altha McCollum, Eva Rickard, Martha Oliver, Charles DeVaney, Elizabeth Skipworth and Mary Ann Wilson.

This year’s Foster Grandparent of the Year is Cornelia Jones, who volunteers at Harlan School in Florence. Of Jones, teacher Deana Moore writes, “She loves and assists each child in the room … She is a worker, helper, cutter-outter, tracer, colorer, friend, teacher, supporter, listener, encourager … She completes our classroom, and we love her with all of our hearts.”

The Foster Grandparent Program also recognized:

– Most Service Hours Award: Sandra Jarmon, 1,325 hours this year.

– Most Service Years Award: Betty Sheffield 25 years.

– Fundraiser awards: Margaret McGuire, Janice Skinner and Jenett Hood.

– Advisory council members, for their unending dedication.