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Dolores Campbell: A Lifetime of Service

by Kate Enos
Even at age 74, no one can slow down Foster Grandparent Dolores Campbell. “People don’t realize you have to be active to keep well,” says Campbell.

She gets out of her house everyday, but nothing gets her more excited then going to work with at-risk teenage girls at the Ionia Whipper Home in Washington, DC.

Campbell has her own large family to care for including seven children, 10 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren. Yet she goes out of her way to look after the girls at Ionia Whipper Home who need extra care and attention.

“Many of these girls come from backgrounds where they’ve been mentally or physically abused,” said Campbell. “I do my best to teach these girls to be self-sufficient and tell them they can do anything if they put their mind to it.”

Campbell has a long history of looking after people in a professional capacity, too. For 25 years, she ran the dining quarters at Fort Myers AFB, serving breakfast and dinner to the likes of Gen. Colin Powell and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Her experience as a civil servant with the US Army made her appreciate public service, and she encouraged three out of her four boys to join the Army.

“The Army gave them stability. The discipline and stability got them out of harm’s way and away from drugs on the street.”

Campbell retired from her position with the Army to take care of her ailing mother. After her mother passed away, Campbell began looking for ways to occupy herself in her retirement. While she was looking for work in the DC Goverment, someone asked her if she’d like to be a foster grandparent.

“We all have to give back and give back to the people who need it. I encourage anyone and everyone over the age of 55 to become a foster grandparent because you make a difference in the life of a child,” says Campbell. A Foster Grandparent for 10 years, Campbell was told she needed her high school diploma to keep her position at the Ionia Whipper House in 2005. Three years later, at the age of 72, Dolores Campbell received her high school diploma. Recently, she was invited to meet First Lady Michelle Obama at the National Mentoring Summit in January. She recalls it being “one of the greatest moments in her life”. Wherever Dolores Campbell does go, she wears a pin close to her heart that reads: “When you help a child today, you help the history of tomorrow.” Learn more about the Foster Grandparent program and other Senior Corps programs here.

Throughout the month of March, the National Service blog will be profiling women in the service movement to honor National Women's History Month.
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