“I have a blast!” is the first comment Y member Hilary Keating makes when she talks about volunteering at the Y. Hilary has been a Y member for nearly 10 years and started volunteering in October volunteering at Kids Stop (babysitting program) at the Merrimack YMCA.
Hilary retired in 2007 after a 40-year career as an educator. She worked as a special education teacher for the ARC of Lowell, Massachusetts, then taught a self-contained class of third, fourth and fifth grade special education students in the Hudson School District. “A lot of the knowledge I have while working in Kids Stop is from being a grandmother to my five grandchildren,” she shared. Hilary is the proud grandmother to five grown grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Hilary volunteers with Kids Stop Supervisor Janna Vartanian. “Hilary is the bonus grandmother everyone needs!,” Janna said. “I’m learning from Janna and the other young women that work at Kids Stop, and I’m connecting with a lot of the children. They are as happy for me to be here as I am to be with them,” Hilary said.
“One of the younger children was not at Kids Stop for a few weeks. I wondered if he would remember me when he returned. Not only did he remember me, but he ran right over to me and hugged my legs when I came in. That’s the way to get greeted in the morning! Another girl grabs a book for me to read to her or shares a drawing she just created when she sees me,” Hilary said. “I come in to play, that’s my main role,” Hilary said.
Hilary is a committed community volunteer. She used to volunteer at the assisted living facility where her mother lived. After her mother passed, Hilary volunteered for five years, making craft projects with the residents. Currently, Hilary is active with her husband Bob in the Granite State Organizing Project’s Nashua Chapter. Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP) is New Hampshire’s largest faith-based, grass-roots, community organization that seeks to strengthen communities, empowering them to find their voice and effect change. (From their website: GSOP’s work is rooted in accepting, respecting, and valuing each other. GSOP comprises many faith communities, labor unions, community groups, and individuals who care deeply that justice and equity is available to all.)
The Keatings have been volunteers with Harbor Care for the past decade. They established the Ending Homelessness Fund, through Harbor Care, supporting an integrated approach to housing stability. Hilary said, “I believe housing is one of the most fundamental needs for anyone. Having one’s own “place” to call your own provides safety, stability, and access to the many services that can be provided by agencies such as Harbor Care.
We are so happy to have Hilary among our committed group of volunteers. Thank you, Hilary for your commitment to our youth.
“I love being at the Y that serves all ages, all kinds of people, all languages, and all types of diversity. It’s marvelous,” she said.
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