Margaret Fretwell is one of the winners of a special judging of the Daily Point of Light Award being honored this May during Older Americans Month. Recognizing the contributions of older Americans, these awards celebrate 50+ volunteers who are making a difference by giving of their time, talent and experience to meet the critical needs of their communities.
Learn more about 50+ Volunteering.
Margaret has served as a mentor to children at Concord Elementary School since the inception of the school district’s Legacy Mentoring Program in 2000,when Concord Elementary School established a partnership with First Presbyterian Church called “Presbyterian Partners.” The nominee’s functions in the program include being paired with a child for the length of a school year(s), tutoring the child on a weekly basis, mentoring the child with support in the form of checking on the child’s well-being, getting to know the child as a friend who can be trusted and depended on to be here for the child, and being like “family” (in this case “grandmother”) to the child. Margaret has certainly been here for children in those ways over the past five years. The children she has been paired with have had tremendous needs in that they have been from families with special circumstances such as a lack of parental support, or are living with other family members other than parents, or have tremendous educational needs as a result of these other factors. Four children in need have benefited from this wonderful, compassionate volunteer over the past five years. When one child was ready to go on to middle school, this nominee arranged for a mentor to see him weekly at McCants Middle School. She could not bear to think of him being there without some support from the mentoring program. She has touched the lives of children by faithfully coming weekly, never wanting to miss her time with her child. She follows up on them when she sees a problem by either coming to the principal or teacher. She continues to follow up on them after they leave her care at the end of the year, always wanting to know how they are or if they are getting support. She plans activities to reinforce classroom objectives, assists with homework, gives support with hugs and pats on the back and much verbal praise. She brings quarters so that they can get special treats in the cafeteria.
Ms. Fretwell has certainly made a difference in the life of a child, one child at a time, week by week, over the past five years of this program. While the numbers may not be high, the results are phenomenal. There is no way to measure what one adult can do for a child in a one-to-one positive relationship. Becoming a “significant” adult in the life of a child when the parent is not in the picture, when the child is stressed with life’s blows, or when the child just needs to see a friendly, loving face that says, “I care about you” cannot be quantified.
Margaret brings compassion for children and their families, dedication to the school and its partnership with her church, the realization of the needs of so many students who do not receive the support at home that they need, a willingness to be a part of a volunteer effort that benefits our community now and over time, and the initiative to come out regardless of personal circumstances, to see that today’s youth have the support they need. Because she reads and keeps up with educational issues, she frequently voices her concerns about education’s’ budgets, its testing programs, etc. She likes to be on the “forefront” of what is happening in schools.
While age should never be considered an obstacle, it is often a limitation. This nominee has not let age slow her down in her volunteer efforts. She will be 91 on her next birthday, which is coming up on May 6. There are not many volunteers her age, and that is why this nominee is so special to Concord. She is diligent in her pursuit of volunteering with children.