Such an everyday question. “What are you doing?” rerouted Luz Jaime's life.
Jaime, of Oklahoma City, had worked for years in the retail business, but was now at home. Her son and husband had both died. And her daughter, Lydia Benson, was grown and had a family. Jaime had time, too much of it, she said in looking back.
But the change in direction came when Benson called her mom and asked “What are you doing?”
“I said, ‘I'm coordinating hangers,'” Jaime said.
“You're doing what?” Benson asked.
“I said, ‘I'm hanging my clothes but I want my blouses in this color of hanger and ..'.” Jaime recalled. Jaime's daughter stopped her and said, “Mother, get out of that house, do something.”
That “something” is “really something,” Jaime said. In the late 1990s, she started work in the state Department of Human Services' Foster Grandparent Program.
To participate, an individual must be at least 55 years old, enjoy working with children, be in reasonably good health and able to serve a minimum of 15 hours per week. A day might include helping a student review spelling words, reading aloud, listening to a student read or simply helping them do an assigned task.
Jaime met all the requirements, and started helping at Capitol Hill Elementary School. The woman who was once bored and arranging clothes by the color of her hangers received a certificate of service this year. It read, “ ... in recognition of 15,747 valuable hours donated through April 2013.”
Angela Houston is principal at Capitol Hill, which has just over 500 students in pre-K through sixth grade. Jaime has helped in second grade in years past, but this year, is assisting students in first grade.
“She is wonderful to work with our kids in small groups, assisting the teacher, helping them with math or reading or whatever they ask her to do,” Houston said. “She is also a blessing for all of the adults because she has a positive attitude. She's always smiling when she comes in. She's not a negative person at all and we love seeing that grandmother-type role for our kids.