By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents recognized
Shown at the drive-thru recognition for Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions are, from left: Joy Fischer, assistant director; Jessica Shank, program coordinator; and Carol Ann Freeman, a Foster Grandparent from Great Bend.
Senior Companions Mary Pontius, left, and Sande Lugo from Larned go through the drive-thru.

The Fort Hays State University Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Program’s annual recognition events looked a little different this year. The annual recognition events, that would usually be held in April and July and would bring together all of the volunteers from western Kansas to celebrate their service, had to be re-imagined 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 Oct. 12-16.

The Great Bend event, held at the Senior Center on Oct. 14, celebrated two Foster Grandparents, Sister LeAnn Probst of Larned and Carol Ann Freeman of Great Bend; and nine Senior Companion volunteers, Barbara J. Bybee, Theresa Hall, Juanita Lumpkins, LaDonna Lytle and Pat Scheuerman, all of Great Bend; Sande Lugo, Mary Pontius and Beverly Prescott all of Larned; and Jackie Pritchard of Hoisington. These outstanding volunteers were recognized for their contributions to the needs of the communities that they serve.  

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 FHSU 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.