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2021 Jefferson Award Profile: Debbie Mestas

Debbie Mestas is a foster-grandparent at Lincoln Elementary in Casper, but she also volunteers to help if she sees a problem anywhere in the community. She is one of the 2021 Jefferson Award finalists for Wyoming.
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 7:15 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Debbie Mestas waits by the front door at Lincoln Elementary in Casper each morning to greet every kid as they walk by with, “Good morning!” and to make sure they’ve got their mask.

It’s part of her role as a foster-grandparent. She also sits in the first grade classroom helping the teacher with whatever she needs and to support the kids.

“Being a foster-grandparent is the best job I’ve ever had,” said Mestas. “The best thing I’ve ever done. It’s made a real impact on my life. It’s just wonderful to be able to do this.”

The kids seem to appreciate Mestas being there, too. “Around Thanksgiving, a friend and I made cards and it said ‘You make my heart happy,” Mestas started about one of the moments that makes her feel special as a foster-grandparent. “And all the kids in school got one because I wanted them to know that they are appreciated, and I’ve had some of those kids pull it out of their pocket months later and say, ‘Grandma Debbie, I still have this.’ So that’s cool.”

Mestas is one of the four finalists for Wyoming’s Jefferson Award. The award honors volunteerism and individuals making an impact in the community.

Mestas said it was humbling to be nominated for the Jefferson Award this year. “I just feel like I’m just doing what I do to help out to give back,” said Mestas.

Vernita Lackey, a coordinator for the foster-grandparent program, nominated Mestas for the Jefferson Award. “She’s just got a pure heart,” said Lackey. “She just wants to help others. She just wants to help the community.”

Being a foster-grandparent isn’t Mestas’ only contributions to the community.

“I have never seen somebody so committed to helping such a variety of people,” said Lackey. “Not only is she a foster-grandparent, but she helps out with the homeless, she helps out at the church, she does blanket ministry. She just goes above and beyond.”

Lackey guessed Mestas volunteers for at least 10 local organizations. “I don’t know where she finds the time in the day to do everything. It’s just amazing,” said Lackey.

If the world had more people like Debbie Mestas, it would be a better place, surmised Lackey.

Tune in to the 5 o’clock newscast Monday, April 19 to meet the next finalist for the 2021 Jefferson Award.

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