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Retirees fill need in schools


© St. Petersburg Times, published February 27, 2001

Terry Moran lives in Pinellas County six months out of the year, then spends the remaining six months in Thousand Islands, Ont., which is just across the Canadian-U.S. border. Before retirement he operated a camping business in upstate New York and wrote a travel column for a newspaper there.

As a seasonal resident, Moran has responded to the following "Snowbird Alert":

Johnny is having trouble with his times tables.

Susie is in third grade and just can't seem to read.

Billy hasn't been able to master the cursive form of handwriting.

Jose just won't try.

These kids are attending a school in your neighborhood, and you can help them. You don't need any special formal skills. Your experience as a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle will allow you to give meaningful assistance in a one-on-one relationship. Under the guidance of a professional educator, who will show you the ropes, you can spend an hour or so each week with a terrific child who has serious needs.

Perhaps disruptive Billy needs some quiet time with a concerned adult, acting as a mentor, to help show him some basic living skills, an hour in which he won't be scolded or reprimanded... just talked to.

Susie may simply need more reading time with a tutor to steer her along and help her finish the story.

Life skills are transferable; these kids need a helping hand, a listening ear and a friendly face.

Moran has a couple of grandchildren and really misses them. For the past three years, he has volunteered three hours per week at Dunedin Elementary School, which gives him an opportunity to keep in touch with young people.

Seasonal and permanent Floridians may apply. Your six months in the sun will really give you a glow if you reach out and help a child.

For more information regarding volunteer opportunities, contact the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, 3443 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 327-8690, ext. 22; or the Martin Luther King Center, 1201 Martin Luther King Ave., Clearwater, (727) 443-1916. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

RSVP recruits and places volunteers age 55 and older with agencies that use their skills and expertise.

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-- Betty Hayward is the director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in Pinellas County. You can write to her c/o Seniority, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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Retired and Senior Volunteer Program: (727) 327-8690, ext. 22 or (727) 443-1916.

Volunteer Action Center: (727) 893-1140.

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