Foster top AARP volunteer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dozens of friends, family members and former colleagues gathered Thursday at the Family Life Center of Greenville's First Baptist Church for a reception in honor

of one of the state's top volunteers.

Betty Foster, president of the local chapter of AARP and long-time active volunteer in church, school and community, was the recipient of the AARP-Alabama Andrus Award for 2006.

&#8220This is the highest award given to any AARP member, and it is given to one member in each of the 50 states and three territories where AARP is located,” Joan Carter, state director for AARP, told the audience.

&#8220Out of 472,000 members here in Alabama, Mrs. Foster was selected. I am proud to be here to honor one of our own.”

On behalf of the City of Greenville, Police Chief Lonzo Ingram presented the 75-year-old Foster with a special plaque of appreciation for her volunteer service.

&#8220To help is a ministry from God. Remember the story in the Bible where Moses needed help to keep his arms up and keep the battle going in his people's favor. Volunteers are like that,” said Ingram, who also praised Foster for the &#8220wonderful homemade treats” she had often brought to the police department.

Carole Teague, retired principal of W.O. Parmer Elementary School, where Foster has long served as a volunteer classroom aide and substitute teacher, said, &#8220there is only one Miss Betty.”

&#8220She is two-times retired, as a bus driver and as a classroom assistant with students with special needs. We were so fortunate to have her come to our school as a volunteerŠshe will look out for any child who needs her in any situation.”

Foster's skills as a cook have also made her very popular with her young charges, Teague said with a smile.

&#8220She makes wonderful candies and cookies in the classroom, and brings treats to the children who behave.”

Teague said Foster is a sought-after substitute in the school because &#8220she follows the teacher's lesson plans and is a good disciplinarian.”

&#8220I thank Miss Betty for her organizational skills, and how she would always find a way to provide children with clothing and school supplies.”

Teague went on to describe Foster as a woman with a &#8220great work ethic.”

&#8220She always took the time to thank me for the opportunity to serve, and I thank her for all her hard work and dedication.”

Dennis Lowery, vice-president of the local AARP chapter, described the active senior as &#8220the best recruiter for new members I have ever seen.”

Janice Charlesworth, executive secretary of the Alabama Education Retirees Association, said, &#8220Although she is 75, (Foster) has the energy of a 25-year-old person. She is an example of what a retiree can accomplish, in church, in local schools and hospitals.”

Charlesworth presented an emotional Foster with a special proclamation from the office of Gov. Bob Riley in the retiree's honor.

J. Ray Warren, state president of AARP, was on hand to share his organization's top honor with Foster.

&#8220You exemplify AARP's commitment to volunteer service in the community. Thanks for all you do,” Warren said as he presented Foster with the Andrus Award.

Foster, fighting back tears, thanked her audience for &#8220a wonderful morning” and acknowledged the many organizations special to her life.

&#8220W.O. Parmer has been like a second home to me, I love it so.

Those children are the future of our country, so I try to instill values they should have,” Foster said.

&#8220I volunteer with my church and association, the school, the hospitalŠI cannot tell you all I do, but I can say I do it all from the heart.”

The honoree thanked her family, including &#8220loving, patient” husband Willie and her two children, Shirley and Randy.

&#8220I will keep on going as long with my volunteering as the good Lord lets me work,” Foster said.

&#8220All these plaques and this award will mean so much to me all the rest of my life. For this l'il ol' country girl to receive all these wonderful awardsŠoh my.”