At the youthful age of 80, Sarah Bell is more active in a day than some people half her age. A lifetime member of the Church of Christ, Sarah Bell serves every fifth Sunday in the church nursery caring for and mentoring to its children. Although Ms. Bell had only one biological child, she is an advocate for children and has always loved being a positive influence for them.
In 1982 after retiring as a nurse’s assistant, Bell began volunteering at the Division of Family and Children Service (DFACS) by providing nurturing care with pre-adopted babies aging from four days old up until adoption finalization. At DFACS, Bell also assisted with another program named “Second Chance.” This program offered persons who had been separated from their children a second chance at parenting after obtaining/maintaining a job, establishing a stable living environment, and participating in care taking courses.
While serving as a volunteer with the pre-adopted babies and Second Chance, Bell learned of another organization providing older persons an opportunity to remain active and contribute services to the community. That organization was and is the Foster Grandparent Program.
She began serving twenty hours a week in 1989 at Grady memorial Hospital as “Grand-ma Bell.” Similar to the services she rendered in other programs, she provides support and encouragement by talking, reading, playing, listening to and cuddling children. Since 1989, “Grand-ma Bell” has been placed at several sites within the Foster Grandparent Program to serve. Presently, she volunteers at one of the Gate City Day Nursery Association sites in Metropolitan Atlanta, five days a week.
As if this is not enough, each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays after volunteering her time at the nursery, Bell goes to Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital to participate with a pediatric literacy, parent-education program called Ready, Set, Read. To date she has served more years than others and has been a volunteer reader since 1994, which is when the program was piloted. As a volunteer reader, she shares developmentally and culturally appropriate book with children and parents in waiting and inpatient rooms, including storybook themes and creative writing and drawing. She also organizes and facilitates monthly birthday parties for children who celebrate in the hospital.
Studies have shown that the most important time of a person’s life is the first three years. It is imperative that early, positive, emotional and intellectual stimulation be provided for children. That fact makes it evident as to why Bell was selected as one of five 2001 Camp Fire Boys and Girls, Inc. Georgia Council Ember Award Honorees.