Grandma Marge goes to Washington

June 04, 2007 12:00 am
Grandma "Marge" Williams helps Redwood School kindergarten student Colton Strnad as he draws during recess Friday morning in Fort Dick. Williams will be honored in Washington, D.C. for her efforts as a volunteer. ().
Grandma "Marge" Williams helps Redwood School kindergarten student Colton Strnad as he draws during recess Friday morning in Fort Dick. Williams will be honored in Washington, D.C. for her efforts as a volunteer. ().

A Crescent City resident will be honored in Washington, D.C., on Friday for her volunteer efforts.

Grandma "Marge" Williams will receive the MetLife Foundation 2007 Older Volunteers Enrich America Award in the mentor category in Washington, D.C., for her particiaption in the local Foster Grandparent Program.

"When I was told they were going to submit my name, I did not give it much thought," Williams said. "It still did not sink in when I was told I got silver."

The Foster Grandparent Program was established by former first lady Nancy Reagan for seniors on a fixed income. More than 30 volunteers in Del Norte County participate.

"These are the people that are ‘no see ‘ems," said Kim Wost, who works with the program.

Despite turning 82 on Friday, Williams spends six hours a day at Redwood School in Susan La Fazio's kindergarten class.

"I go out and work with children every day," Williams said. "At the beginning I get four or five children. Then children go on to Mrs. La Fazio's class."

Children work in a group with Williams to get extra help with numbers and reading. She subscribes to the idea that "children need a good start."

"A lot of people do not believe in teaching numbers or reading. When they (children) come to us, they think it is time to play.

"It used to be in kindergarten you sleep, eat lunch, and go home, but it is a lot like first grade. They are more progressive then before."

Williams also gets groceries for several disabled residents at the Surf Hotel. At Crescent City Convalescent Hospital, she assists about three people.

"It is good for old people," she said of the program. "It is good to have something like this to do. It gives me a reason to get up in the morning."

The program has been in Del Norte County for 10 years, Wost said. Each foster grandparent receives a monthly stipend of about $300.

"This covers medication and things that makes their life better," Wost said "That's $118 a year of money going back into the community."

Foster grandparents are only obligated to put in three-and-a-half hours a day, she said.

The program's retirees assist children in various ways. In one case, a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant works with kids in the juvenile hall.

The foster grandparents work with such schools as Joe Hamilton and Mary Peacock elementaries, McCarthy Center-Community School and Klamath Early College of the Redwoods.

Williams' excitement about traveling to Washington, D.C., for her award is tempered.

"I kind of hate to leave the kids, because there is so much to do," Williams said.

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Williams a long time volunteer

Grandma "Marge" Williams' commitment to volunteering precedes her involvement in Del Norte County's Foster Grandparents Program. After her husband passed away, she involved herself in foster care for displaced children. In 1981, Williams won the Del Norte Business and Professional Women's Club Woman of the Year Award for dedication to service of youth in the community.

In 1992, she helped create a golf course in Modesto. She then assisted the golf course for seven years.

How to Volunteer

Foster Gransparent Program: Call 465-6800