The Fort Hays State University Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Program’s annual recognition events looked a little different this year.


The annual celebrations, that would usually be celebrated in April and July respectively and would bring together all of the volunteers from Western Kansas to celebrate their service, had to be reimagined this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Program staff and the Advisory Council members, concerned about health and safety of the volunteers, determined that drive-thru events would the best option to recognize and thank Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Volunteers for their outstanding service to their communities.


Staff members prepared "Thank You" bags for each volunteer to enjoy. Drive-thru recognition events were held in Stockton, Hays, Russell, Great Bend, Dodge City and WaKeeney during the week of October 12-16.


The Hays event, held at the Sternberg Museum on Oct. 13, celebrated 10 Foster Grandparent and 44 Senior Companion Volunteers from Catherine, Ellis, Hays, McCracken, Rush Center and Victoria. These outstanding volunteers were recognized for their contributions to the communities that they serve.


3 Senior Companion Volunteers were recognized for milestone anniversaries – Margie Heart, Hays and Val Schumacher, Victoria were both honored for serving 5 years and Sr. Loretta Clare Flax, Hays was honored for 10 years of volunteer service. These special anniversaries were celebrated with the presentation of a personalized cup, which was handmade by Advisory Council Member, Colleen Kuhn of Victoria.


Foster Grandparents are role models, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs. Senior Companions provide daily assistance and friendship to adults needing support to enable them to remain living in their homes as independently as possible. Both programs provide opportunities for volunteers age 55 and over to stay active by serving in their communities.


The Programs are sponsored by Fort Hays State University and funded by the Corporation for National & Community Service, Washington, DC. Support for these programs is also provided by many of the counties and cities in which volunteers serve. FHSU Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion volunteers serve in Barton, Ellis, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Trego, Ford, Gove, Graham, Phillips, Hodgeman, Ness, and Pawnee counties.