"I’ve always been drawn to kids and had done some volunteering. Now I have time to do more."

Marilyn Kaple
Dorchester Children’s Center
Summerville, SC

 

Former teacher gets active after relocating, helping kids and creating community

I believe generational links are essential so young people grow up understanding that the past has brought them to the place they are now. Someone has to give them that perspective.

I spent more than 30 years in public education, teaching English, speech, drama and film studies. I loved it. The kids were so creative. It was an adventure every day. They couldn’t wait to come to class and I couldn’t wait to see them.

When my husband and I retired, we moved from Dayton, Ohio to Summerville, South Carolina. I’ve always been drawn to kids and had done some volunteering. Now I have time to do more.

My early volunteer experiences had clarified my interest in child advocacy, so when I found out about the Dorchester Children’s Center, I went right over and said I wanted to be involved. I’ve been volunteering with them for eight years now. I’ve done some writing, helped build awareness of their program, and have become instrumental in their yearly fundraiser, the Scrumptious Summerville Kitchen Tour.

I also serve on the School Improvement Council (SIC) at Charles B. DuBose Middle School, which is close to our house. The SIC looks for opportunities to directly help children who might evade social services and makes their school experiences more successful. Without judgment and without making anybody jump through hoops, we do what we can to make their days easier.

One of our programs is called Backpack Buddies. This year we’re serving 55 kids who live in low-income households and qualify for free and reduced lunch programs. They’re given backpacks filled with non-perishable foods to carry them through the weekend. Several organizations quietly support us by providing the foods. The donated groceries go to a storage pantry, where special education students sort them according to the type of food. Stocking shelves and sorting are skills that might help them find future employment.

Another one of our programs is called Real Men Read. This year, the teachers have identified 60 boys who are reluctant readers. Adult men from diverse backgrounds come in to talk with them about reading – why they read, what they read. Some bring in their favorite book and read parts of it. We’ve even had some high school young men who were in the program come back to read to the boys in middle school.

When I was a teacher I always hoped I would be able to continue giving to children beyond my official classroom duties. Now I have so many of those opportunities, and it’s been exciting to discover new ways to get involved in my southern community. Plus, staying engaged keeps my brain in gear!

Share your story.