AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer Doris Cox
For Doris Cox, “Every Day a Beautiful Day to Experience Something New”
“Granny,” he ventured, “could I please have a hug?”
“This little boy was as sweet as could be,” she recalls, “and he became my buddy for the entire year.”
Amy Alexander is hardly surprised to hear such anecdotes. As one of two program coordinators for the Foster Grandparent program Doris has been part of for eight years, she nods knowingly to hear such stories: “It showcases the impact our Foster Grandparents have in the schools. And it allows both parties to feed off the joy they give to one another. The program really does have the capacity to change lives.”
Doris volunteers at Moon Elementary School in her hometown of Muskegon. Recently widowed, she spent 42 years working at a manufacturing facility, where she was employed in accounting, sales, purchasing and more. She’s blessed with one stepson, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
She heard about the Foster Grandparent initiative – sponsored in Muskegon, Lake and Newaygo counties by Catholic Charities West Michigan – from fellow church members who belong to the program. She liked what she heard, and “it was already in my mind to do something with kids after I’d retired, maybe in part because I’d never had any of my own.”
What she learned immediately was that “kids have so much energy, so much unconditional love, and the ability to teach adults things about our world from an entirely different perspective.”
In her role, Doris has had to endure some sad stories expressed by kids who sometimes act out because of a problem at home. “We once had a young boy who was always so angry, and we couldn’t figure out why.” She came to understand that he’d experienced a lot of trauma, including domestic violence where he personally witnessed his father throw his mother through a window. In another case, teachers had to intervene upon learning a young girl was being abused by a close family member.
Doris enjoys employing what she calls a “nurturing spirit” into her day-to-day activities with the kids. That was especially evident during the pandemic, when in remote ways she was able to help some of the children catch up on their reading and math skills.
Serving as a Foster Grandparent, says Doris, also helps provide purpose in her life. “I depend on it as a big part of my day. And I’ve come to understand that the more you listen, the more you learn.
“It’s a wonderful and rewarding program, and like belonging to a second family. Every day is a beautiful day to experience something new.”