Northside’s favorite grandmaPublished 6:05pm Monday, March 19, 2012
Louise Moffitt is 80 years old, but the Niles grandmother still wakes up at 5 a.m. four days a week to get ready for school. A dial-a-ride vehicle picks her up promptly at 7:15 a.m. and from there it’s off to Northside Child Development Center in Niles.
Moffitt isn’t a student though. Or a teacher either. She is Northside’s foster grandmother; and has been for the past 13 years.
“Kids are my addiction and being here is my medication,” Moffitt said. “Sometimes I can hardly get up in the morning, but if I can get to school and see the little people I feel better.”
Moffitt began volunteering at Northside when her grandson got old enough to go to school.
“I was just sitting around all day bored and counting the patterns on the ceiling,” Moffitt said. “I thought, I better get out and do something.”
Moffitt was assigned to Northside and has been there ever since.
She describes herself as an “all-purpose lady”, doing everything from setting the breakfast table, to tying shoes to wiping noses.
Teachers say Moffitt’s service is invaluable.
“Some of these kids don’t have grandmothers or don’t get to spend much time with their grandma so it is really great for them,” said Northside teacher Pat Rogers. “When the kids hear they can call (Moffitt) grandma, they are beaming.”
Moffitt has been volunteering with teacher Paula Rose’s class for the past five years. Moffitt used to rotate classrooms before joining Rose.
“We wouldn’t let her go,” said Rose laughing. “We just love her. When she isn’t here the kids are all worried about her, saying ‘where is grandma, where is grandma?’
“If they need someone to love on them, grandma is the one that gets to them first.”
Northside had as many as three foster grandmas volunteering at one time. Now, Moffitt is the only one.
She said she isn’t leaving anytime soon.
“I’ll be here until they tell me I can’t,” Moffitt said.
Moffitt said she receives a small stipend for volunteering that covers the cost of public transportation and not much more. Being with the kids is her real payment.
“It is therapy for my mind,” said Moffitt, who has lived in Niles most of her life. “I grew up in a big family and always had people around me. That made me want to be with kids and be part of their lives. I don’t look forward to ever being alone.”