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‘Grandma Margaret’ a familiar presence at DU’s Fisher Early Learning Center

“I’ve felt welcome since the day I started,” Margaret Hall says of her volunteer work at DU's Fisher Early Learning Center. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

It’s Thursday afternoon at DU’s Fisher Early Learning Center, and naptime is just ending. Groggy toddlers wake up to crackers, bottles and a familiar presence in their classroom: “Grandma” Margaret Hall.

The Volunteers of America (VOA) foster grandparent program came to Hall’s senior citizen residence in January to recruit volunteers for schools in the Denver area. Hall was looking for volunteer opportunities in early childhood care, so VOA matched her with Fisher.

“It was a good chance to be with little kids again,” says Hall, whose four grandchildren live on the East Coast. “I’ve felt welcome since the day I started.”

Hall is the first volunteer from VOA to donate her time to Fisher. She volunteers three to six hours a day, three days a week. She works with children ages 6 weeks to 1 year.

“Grandma Margaret brings diversity and a valuable age difference to us,” says Fisher Human Resources Manager Nicole Kramis. “She’s so helpful, and the kids love her.”

Although the classrooms have a low child-to-teacher ratio, Fisher teachers still need volunteers like Hall to accommodate the kids’ short attention spans. Hall spends the majority of her time playing, often sitting with kids during mealtime or helping them get
accustomed to playtime outside.

Hall has gained an unexpected benefit from her volunteer work: sign language. Her Fisher kids are too young to talk, but teachers have shown them how to communicate through simple hand signs. The signs strike a personal note with Hall, too.

“I have hearing loss in my right ear,” Hall says. “Learning to sign gave something back to me.”

Outside her time at DU, Hall enjoys sewing and baking and belongs to a local plant club. But she sees her most generous hobby, volunteering at Fisher, enduring for a long time.

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