By AMY GAREIS   News-Herald Staff Writer

CADIZ – More than a dozen members of the COAD Foster Grandparents Program earned certificates August 7  after completing classes at Belmont College’s Harrison County Center.

Thirteen certificates were earned that day but a dozen were distributed with one recipient absent. The latest group, which was certified in courses such as nutrition, computer and creative writing, included Diana Wiegand, a Senior Companion Program volunteer in Tuscarawas County; Diana Cook, a Foster Grandparent volunteer in Carroll County; Rose Marie Mills, a Foster Grandparent in Tuscarawas; Susan Andears, a Foster Grandparent in Belmont County; Becky Meyer, a Foster Grandparent in Tuscarawas; Nancy Beichel, a Foster Grandparent in Tuscarawas; Thelma Bolitho, a Foster Grandparent in Harrison; Bonnie Bruce, a Foster Grandparent in Carroll; Shirley Smitley, a Foster Grandparent in Tuscarawas; and Arthur “Art” Walker, a Foster Grandparent in Tuscarawas. Elizabeth Brown, a Foster Grandparent in Tuscarawas, was absent. Nearly all of the participants assist children at area schools.

Kirk Guisti, Area I coordinator for COAD, said the program covers Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Jefferson and Tuscarawas counties. It is also celebrating 40 years of service through the Foster Grandparent Program and 38 years of its Senior Companion Program. This summer also marks 19 years that classes have been completed in conjunction with the center, which COAD officials said was a rarity.

“This has been going on for over 15 years and this is the only place where it exists,” commented COAD Senior Programs Division Director Gary Goosman, adding that no collaborations occurred with other community colleges. “[Belmont College has] gone above and beyond on your behalf, and it speaks volumes about the organization.”

Also on hand for the event was State Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville), who praised the participants for their achievement.

“I really enjoyed this experience,” said Sen. Gentile. The son of a retired schoolteacher and two parents who were very active with the community and public service, he said that it inspired him to give back. Additionally, he expressed his gratitude for the COAD program and the volunteers.

Pictured above with the group are Sen. Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville, college Dean of Off-Campus Operations Tim Houston and COAD Senior Programs Division Director Gary Goosman.