At Bridges Together, we are so grateful for the many volunteers who give their time, talent and treasure in order to unite generations in meaningful ways! As with all nonprofits, volunteers are a vital asset at Bridges Together, and we like to give “shout outs” to not only recognize them but to demonstrate how invaluable their work is to us.
Upon retirement from her job as a school psychologist and chair of special education in the Cambridge Public Schools, Margaret Harty wondered, “What next?” A serendipitous meeting with two friends in the grocery store gave her clarity, and we at Bridges Together are ever grateful!
Margaret has been volunteering with Bridges Together for four years. Initially, she started in a Sudbury elementary school classroom, spending time every week with a group of children and going through the Bridges: Growing Together curriculum. “I have one son who went through Bridges, and when I thought about the opportunity to volunteer, I thought, ‘I like little children a lot; this is a good fit for me.’”
Margaret didn’t just leave it at that, though. A couple of years later, she accompanied Andrea to Worcester to implement the program with 7th- and 8th-grade girls from Girls Inc. The week – an intensive of the same curricula she had participated in in Sudbury – was a memorable one for Margaret.
“They were talkative girls. On the last day, one girl in foster care found out that an aunt had agreed to take custody of her and that she would be moving. I think this program was good for her because I’m not sure she had people in her life that she could talk to about earlier generations or her family’s history.
“One woman from the Worcester library brought a typewriter in to show everyone – the girls had never seen one! I think it was so appropriate because the typewriter illustrated that ‘what’s old is new.’ The typewriter is still effective and is the basis for the word processing we do now.”
In the past year, Margaret has begun helping the Bridges Together office with administrative tasks. Her help with getting our Annual Fund letters assembled as well as the solicitation letters for Spring Into Summer out the door was invaluable.
“I think the big takeaway for me is that we should both [older adults and youth] support each other. Just as we need to teach children to learn from older adults, I need to recognize that I have to work harder at integrating myself into their world.
“One of the things that never, ever changes is that we are all worried about what the person next to us thinks about us. I may have used a blackboard, and these kids are learning with a Smart Board, but we were all concerned about feeling good about ourselves and figuring out what we’re good at. That feeling exists for all school children, no matter what generation they’re from. What I would want to say to a child is that ‘Your concerns are the concerns of life. Learning social skills and learning how to relate to one another is something we all worry about. Life changes, yet it remains blessedly the same. I, as an older adult, know what you’re talking about.”
Thank you to Margaret and all those who so generously donate their time to Bridges Together! If you’re interested in volunteering with Bridges Together — either in the office or in a Bridges program — please give us a ring at 978.793.9650 or send an email to Debbie@BridgesTogether.org