The foster grandparents' program honored its 135 participants yesterday at a luncheon at the Shiloh Baptist Church's family life center, Ninth and P streets NW. It was a grand event, and if you missed it, you missed some great gospel singing by one of the program's participants, DeBirdie Hughes.

Foster grandparents are people we don't often hear about. They're, by the rules, people at least 60 and of low income. (But by their stylish looks yesterday, you wouldn't have known it!)

They spend at least four hours a day for at least five days a week with disadvantaged or troubled kids, bridging the gap between the ages, talking and counseling and, most of all, providing the love that many of the youngsters lack in their lives. They do so at various locations, including the Hospital for Sick Children, St. Elizabeths Hospital and group homes for boys.

Yesterday's main speaker was WMAL-TV newsman Paul Berry, who knows the value of a real grandmother: now 84, she raised him after his mother died. Berry is part of a very extended family as one of 54 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great grandchildren. And his grandmother remains the active matriarch.