December 15, 2011

Turning a New Page

Posted in Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), Volunteer Spotlight tagged , , , at 2:57 pm by Lund

Photos & Story by Cat Cutillo/Lund

Every Wednesday at 3:00 PM Gisele Kloeckner takes a break from her job as the Vice President of Commercial Banking at TD Bank and drives over to Lund’s childcare in South Burlington, where she slides off her business shoes and curls up on the carpet with a children’s book and a group of toddlers.

“It’s a nice change of pace after working at the bank.  When I go there it’s very calming and soothing to sit down with the kids and read books with them,” says Gisele who began volunteering in childcare because she missed reading to her two daughters who are now older. Her employer and manager encourage her to do it. In fact, TD Bank sponsors a reading program every summer where kids earn $10 when they read 10 books.

“The bank encourages financial literacy and literacy as a whole so I just keep it going all year long versus just in the summer,” says Giselle.

She’s not there very long. Maybe 10 minutes, but the kids love it and have even been known to greet her with ‘Gigi’s here, Gigi’s here!’

“Even though she’s not here that much, she’s a fixture in their routine. I feel really lucky that she’s is willing to drive and stay here for just a few minutes,” says Lund’s Childcare Coordinator Judy Harvey who explains that originally Giselle had planned to read for 30 minutes but because toddlers are so hard to keep focused for that long she adjusts her time based on the needs of the children.

Gisele says it recharges her.

“My mother always says my two girls are her vitamins. You know what, those little guys are my vitamins,” says Gisele.

And while she’s curled up on the floor with a handful of pint-size listeners sitting around her (or even on her) she thinks of an old friend from high school who she wishes could have received Lund’s services.

“I think of her a lot while I’m there. I’ve not seen her since she dropped out of high school in the 10th grade,” says Gisele. “I often wonder what happened to her. I know that it’s been a tough life for her and I know that Lund would have made her life so different had she had the opportunity.”

Ten minutes later, when the kids have hopped off her lap making a beeline for snack time, Gisele closes the book, slips out the door and heads back to work.

“I think everybody should have an organization that they volunteer with –or more than one. Because it’s easy to be caught up in your own little world and I think when you volunteer and you see other people’s worlds you’re more thankful for your blessings.”

She has also donated half a dozen of her hand-made quilts to Lund’s childcare leaving the tots something to snuggle up with long after she’s left.

Gisele hopes her time at Lund will create even bigger ripples, extending a brighter future into the lives of women who are now at the intersection where her old high school friend once stood.

“I just know that Lund would have made such an huge impact on her life back then. Like they do everyday with a lot of women now, a lot of families, a lot of kids.”

If you would like to volunteer at Lund please contact Alex Brady at 802-861-2585 or alexb@lundfamilycenter.org.

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