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Local senior citizens make big contributions

Charlotte Botkins, Janet Shepherd, Peanut Dotson and Mary Thompson take a break from their busy day.


Most senior citizens look for hobbies. For seven women, they found a hobby that touches young lives.

Peanut Dotson, Charlotte Botkins, Janet Shepherd, Mary Thompson, Gail Bowman, Joette Johnson and Carol Carter all spend their time helping in the Ironton school district, mainly at the elementary school.

“They are very important. They play a vital part to the school,” said Robert Rowe, guidance counselor. “They help the teachers. The students look to them as grandmas. They are very nurturing. We are blessed to have all of them.”

Peanut, which is a nickname, is strictly a volunteer. Not a lot of people actually know her real name. She has been volunteering for 40 years. Peanut usually arrives every morning before most of the paid staff at the elementary school. She works full time hours without the pay.

“If you can help children learn and achieve, then you get your reward,” Peanut said. “I’ll do anything for the kids. That’s what it’s all about.”

The efforts of all seven women do not go unnoticed.

“It’s amazing the amount of hours these ladies put in,” Ironton Elementary school principal Kim Brown said.

Assistant principal Jim Williams echoed those comments.

“They are essential to the running of the school,” Williams said. “They serve the children well. They are devoted, dedicated. They pour their heart and soul into the school. They do whatever it takes to serve the children and the staff.”

The other six women, who are referred to as grandmas, signed up for a foster grandparent program. The program pays a small stipend and places senior citizens in an environment where they are most needed.

“As you get older, you feel like you have no purpose after your kids are all grown up,” Thompson said. “I love kids. If I can help a child with homework or something, it’s an accomplishment. I love it. I’d recommend it to any senior citizen.”

Shepherd said volunteering at the school gives her something to look forward to everyday and Botkins echoed those sentiments.