Dorothy Ivie Honored with Utah AmeriCorps Seniors Service Award

Dorothy Ivie (Grandma Ivie as she prefers to be called) has been volunteering, in one capacity or another, for the Uintah Basin Association of Governments’ senior service programs since the mid 1990’s, and has officially been with the Foster Grandparent Program since 2000. During the last few decades, Grandma Ivie has assisted countless children at Duchesne Elementary in Duchesne, Utah. She has watched children grow into healthy, happy adults who start their own families and send their children to receive help from her all these years later!

Grandma Ivie has worked full-time (40 hours per week) since she first started volunteering. As of June 30, 2021, Grandma Ivie has logged over 42,306 hours during the last 21 years! Grandma Ivie’s dedication to the children in the community is inspiring. The Foster Grandparent Program and the school would be lost without her. Grandma Ivie is an important asset in our community and a grandma to us all!

Grandma Ivie once shared a story about a boy she helped many years ago. Every time she recalls this story, there is not a dry eye in the room. It is one of the most powerful and successful stories which demonstrates why Foster Grandparents are imperative assets in the schools.

The story goes like this:

Grandma Ivie had been doing yard work one morning, when a blue pickup truck drove past. The truck went down the road and she didn’t think much of it. A few minutes later, though, the truck came back and pulled into her driveway. From the driver’s side stepped a young man who looked a little familiar, but Grandma Ivie couldn’t place him right away. He dashed over to Grandma Ivie, explained who he was, and proceeded to give her a great big hug! He thanked her for working with him when he was younger, for being patient with him, and for giving him the strength and encouragement to finish high school (which he successfully did in 2015).

Grandma Ivie and the young man talked for a long time. Eventually, the young man admitted that he struggled with his mental health a lot growing up. His home life was miserable; filled with violence and drugs. School didn’t feel much safer since he was bullied for not being able to read well, among other reasons. The young man confessed he had even contemplated suicide starting at a shockingly young age and had experienced self-harm in the past. The young man opened up to Grandma Ivie about how she had made such a difference in his life. She gave him stability, self-confidence, and was the one person (from his perspective) that truly cared about him. Grandma Ivie helped him see that life is worth living and that he has purpose. Even in his lowest times, Grandma Ivie’s words of respect, encouragement, and kindness were what got him through. Additionally, the help that Grandma Ivie provided the young man eventually helped him be a very successful reader.

Stories like this one are the absolute proof that small acts of kindness can live on in the hearts of others for much longer than we may expect. What may seem like a small kindness could mean the world to someone else. It could mean a matter of life or death. Having that one special person who will treat you with respect, dignity, encourage you along the way, and share valuable lessons that live on, is so very important for children. We should all take a lesson from Grandma Ivie and provide a simple kindness to someone whenever we can. 

The Foster Grandparent Program provides grants to organizations with a dual purpose: to engage Americans 55 years and older in volunteer service and to provide one-on-one support to children with special needs to improve their academic, social, or emotional development. The volunteers in this program help children learn to read and provide one-on-one tutoring; mentor trouble teenagers and young mothers; care for premature infants or children with disabilities; help children who have been abused or neglected.

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