BUTTE — It takes a lot of energy, love, and passion to do something for 50 years, and one Butte woman is coming up on her 50th anniversary working with the local Headstart children.
"You keep going. I mean, your body doesn’t start stiffening up on you and, you know, it doesn’t do you good to just sit all day," says Suzzette Lucier, a foster grandparent at the Butte Headstart.
Lucier has spent the morning tying shoelaces, giving hugs, and offering encouraging words while playing games with a class of four and five-year-olds.
She began at Headstart as a bus aide when her son attended the program and through the years, she has served in many roles, including advocating for the first seat belts on the bus to fundraising for the first playground equipment and eventually going off to school herself.
"Headstart sent me to school in Bozeman. I became a legislative advocate for Headstart; that was very interesting," says Lucier.
But perhaps her most important work is in details: the things that children really notice like the hugs she gives out throughout the day or the clothing she knits for the classroom dolls.
"I did a lot of sweaters, hats and booties, outfits for the babies in the classrooms," says Lucier.
And officials with Headstart could not be more thrilled with her dedication.
"She has given so much of her time and her life to Headstart and this cause and these kids just thrive off of having people around them that truly love them and care about them and their well-being. So she plays a very important role," says Bridgette Raybould, a coach and parent advocate with Headstart in Butte.
Suzzette says she has come full circle in her work as a foster grandma, a role that she stepped into seven years ago.
"I enjoy all of it. I love the kids and they come to love us too. You might be at Walmart or somewhere and you hear 'Grandma!' and they come running to ya, you know? They don’t forget ya," says Lucier.
And Suzzette isn’t done yet.
"Well, as long as I can. As long as my body will let me and my mind, you know?" says Lucier.
Headstart is looking for more foster grandparents. Anyone interested in joining the program can contact Angela Nelmark with the Foster Grandparent Program for the Rocky Mountain Development Council at 406-457-7362 or email@example.com.