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Foster Grandparent program awarded $50,000 grant

By Staff
MENTORING Foster grandparents Leona Griggs, left, and Magnolia Hudson read to Chariah Mallard, Undraez McKey, Antanesia King and Aaron White at the Boys and Girls Club of Lauderdale County. Photo by Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
July 15, 2001
The Lauderdale County Foster Grandparent program has been awarded a competitive grant of $50,000 to help Head Start children in Meridian and Toomsuba with their speech and language skills.
The grant is administered by the Program for National Significance through the Corporation for National Service. Currently, 113 foster grandparents assist children with special needs in Lauderdale, Clarke and Jasper counties.
Foster grandparents work four hours a day with two children, five days a week. They receive a stipend of $2.55 a day, mileage to and from the site and lunch. The program is for seniors of limited income, age 60 and over who are in good health.
Besides helping children, the program acts as a social outlet for the volunteers, according to Bob Glazar, program director.
The local Foster Grandparent program is sponsored by the Multi-County Community Service Agency under the guidance of executive director Callie Cole.
Great' grandparents
Gaynell Barber, 79, Leona Griggs, 82, and Magnolia Hudson, 68, all of Meridian and all great-grandparents in their own right, are also foster grandparents.
This summer the women are performing foster grandparent duties at the Boys and Girls Club of Lauderdale County by helping to monitor the children and reading to them.
Griggs has been a volunteer in the program for 21 years and is raising two great-grandchildren at home, ages 2 and 8. As a foster grandparent she works with kindergarten children at Witherspoon Elementary.
It was so long ago when she started as a foster grandparent, she said she doesn't remember what attracted her to it. "I just love children," she said, so much so, a recent stroke couldn't keep her down.
The children love their foster grandparents, too. Griggs said she gets a letter about every other week from a child she worked with years ago, now a grown man with a family in Atlanta.
Hudson said one of the 4-year-olds she works with at Oakland Heights Elementary told her he is going to buy her a red car when he grows up.
Both she and Barber entered the program after hearing about it through friends. Hudson has been a volunteer for two years. Barber, a foster grandparent for first-graders at Northeast Elementary, is in her first year.
In their respective settings the foster grandparents said they teach the children manners, help them with projects, tie their shoes, read to them, play with them and lend extra support for teachers.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.