Reflecting on 20 years of service at Roosevelt
I sense that Friday will be a sad day for the close-knit group of volunteers whom I’ve been honored to get to know while we served breakfast to children at Janesville’s Roosevelt Elementary School. It is our last regularly scheduled day to serve; the district is switching to federally funded breakfast programs Jan. 28. While district officials say they want us to continue volunteering, serving as mentors to the kids and helping open their prepackaged foods, it will never be the same, even if some of us agree to help.
I remember people such as Carroll Flanagan, Jim Marchant, Harold Powers, Jim Husen, "Singing" Frank Sinkule, Ray and Sheila Flynn and Bob and Marcella Fanning. They are among St. John Vianney volunteers who served these kids in their final years of life.
I’ve gotten to know many of my fellow volunteers well. Some have become friends. I doubt I’d have even met some of them had it not been for this program. In a way, the program bonded people across our community.
I started volunteering at Roosevelt with another church after a co-worker, Pat Burkhard, asked me to help out. Pat, likewise, has passed on. I think my son was in third grade at Roosevelt at the time when I started volunteering. When St. John Vianney joined the rotation of churches serving there, I teamed up with this group. My son turns 30 this June. That means I’ve served about 20 years.
I remember buying mittens for the little girl who came to breakfast one winter morning without any, her hands red and raw. I’ll never forget the girl who, on the eve of a field trip to a farm, startled me by asking, “Do cows have soft udders?” I’ll recall fun chats with some of these kids when I saw them around town or in my neighborhood. I’ll recall those who gave me hugs of appreciation because I, in turn, appreciated their spontaneous gestures.
Thanks, students, and fellow volunteers, for the memories.