The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

July 1, 2014

Updated: Non-profit takes reins of foster grandparent program

ENID, Okla. — A volunteer program that has been making a difference for Oklahoma youngsters for more than 40 years has been handed over to a nonprofit organization for operation.

Area I Foster Grandparent Program, coordinated by Department of Human Services since 1973, is now operated by Sunbeam Family Services, based in Oklahoma City.

The program recruits senior volunteers to work one-on-one with elementary and preschool students to improve academic achievement. It is funded by a Corporation for National and Community Service grant.

LaDonna Ware, program coordinator for DHS, said the Enid office was notified in February the state agency was relinquishing sponsorship of the program so a non-profit agency could take over.

“We were told Feb. 9 that the foster grandparent program was going to close,” Ware said.

Ware pointed to Sunbeam’s track record of more than 100 years of providing services for senior citizens and low income families.

The program was launched to provide supports to residents of Enid State School — later known as Northern Oklahoma Resource Center Enid — and expanded into elementary schools. Originally it had nine volunteers in Enid.

Now there are 14 Enid volunteers and 44 volunteers in other communities serve by Area I. All current volunteers plan to stay with the program, Ware said.

Throughout the last 40 years, 689 volunteers have served 31 communities.

According to Courtney Hyder, spokeswoman for Sunbeam, a local offic soon will open to cover the Enid area.

“We are excited to be awarded this opportunity to continue the Foster Grandparent Program in Enid,” said Patrick O’Kane, director of senior services at Sunbeam. “Although we are based in Oklahoma City, our goal is to hire a dedicated staff person to effectively implement programming in Enid and surrounding areas. Another staff person will manage the Oklahoma, Canadian, Kingfisher and Logan counties.”

O’Kane said community involvement is paramount for the Foster Grandparent Program, and Sunbeam is seeking in-kind office space in Enid and meeting space for about 25 Enid foster grandparents. The meeting space will be needed monthly.  

“The Foster Grandparent Program is truly a community program, providing volunteer opportunities for our older adults, valuable interaction and learning opportunities for the children, along with directly assisting schools, teachers, and parents by promoting education and intergenerational relationships,” O’Kane said. “By improving children’s learning and knowledge, the program directly benefits the community with children who are better educated and ready for the demanding job market over time.”

For information on the Foster Grandparent program, contact O’Kane at or (405) 528-7721.

Sunbeam Family Services of Oklahoma City has been in operation since 1907. It provides services including counseling, early childhood education, foster care and senior services. Its mission is to provide people of all ages with help, hope and the opportunity to succeed. For information on Sunbeam, go to

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