Submitted by Gail DeSpain
Q: What was your primary career and what did you love about it?
A: I’ve had many careers — music librarian, administrative assistant, concierge, interior designer, architect, volunteer, para pro (teacher’s assistant), librarian. The most rewarding “career” has been as a para pro in an under served school, helping challenged students learn basic reading and math skills. The affection these children develop for someone they can trust and who will help them achieve is priceless.
Q: When you retired, did you feel ‘finished’ or, for you, was there still something left to do?
A: I have never retired. Staying home, watching daytime TV and feeling my life was pretty much on the downside was never an option.
Q. What inspires you and why?
A: The hugs of the children I serve, and hearing them call out “Miss Gail” each time I walk on campus. If I can help one child learn ABC’s or multiplication, I am fulfilled.
Q: How does your unique set of experiences make a difference for the community in your work now?
A: At the school I serve, there is a diverse, under served population. Because of my scattered experiences, and the opportunity of having lived in Saudi Arabia for over five years, I feel I understand and have empathy for the circumstances my students experience.
Q: What’s your advice for boomers who are about to launch their own “second act”?
A: Keep dancing!!! Find a need and fill it — be it with children, elders, in a food bank, etc. Giving of yourself is the greatest gift to make in exchange for the blessings you have received during your life. Yes, all of us have had tragedy and hardship, but feeling sorry for yourself and dwelling on the negatives does not enhance your life nor that of others. “Be the rainbow in the cloud,” to quote Maya Angelou.