KAYSVILLE — Being 90 years young doesn’t stop Iloa Gregory, or GiGi, as she’s affectionately called, from volunteering.
Come rain or shine, the Layton woman spends the day volunteering with the kids and teachers at Davis Head Start at the Family Enrichment Center in Kaysville.
“She is dedicated to the children. The kids absolutely love grandma,” said Judy Jackson, Head Start director. “It’s incredible how she gives them that warm, unconditional love.”
The staff and students surprised GiGi last week with songs, gifts and a cake, all as a way of saying thanks.
“Lots of Thanks for All You Do,” was on one of the big banners, which had hand prints from the students of one class and hand-written names on another.
“She always says we’re safe,” student Dillon said. Speaking to GiGi’s help cleaning up after school, Marlee added, “She always cleans the place mats.”
Gregory started volunteering at Head Start about two years ago through the Foster Grandparent Program. For four years before that, she volunteered at Kaysville Elementary School.
“There are several reasons I like volunteering,” the very alert, active Gregory said. “It keeps me active, and I like to be by children, I enjoy that. I come from a family of school teachers.”
Her two daughters and families live in Los Angeles and Seattle areas, so aren’t nearby.
“This motivates me to get going,” she added. “I think I’m in better health now than I was 10 years ago.”
“She was helping the kids and fell over a bike,” teacher Melody Brewer said. “She was more worried about the child than herself.”
GiGi believes in getting down to the kids’ physical level, even sitting herself down in the tiny kid-sized chairs beside them.
“She plays with the kids. Her caring voice, the way she giggles, the kids like grandma. She’s a go-between” to a lot of kids’ grandmothers and great-grandmothers, Brewer said.
“Whether it’s morning or afternoon, she’s here every day,” teacher Whitney Brewer said.
“She doesn’t seem 90,” said Brett Lund, who is fatherhood coordinator and performs many other duties at Head Start, including recruiting Gregory. “Her attitude, and good spirit –the kids gravitate to her.”
“I hope when and if I turn 90, I’ll be as good as she is,” Brewer said.
“I think if people knew how much fun it is,” they’d volunteer, Gregory said.