Ruby Merrill is making a difference in the lives of children by volunteering as a foster grandparent.
Merrill is giving back by devoting her life to Southeast Lauderdale Elementary School. She says she gets back as much as she gives.
Merrill, 71, is no stranger to children. She has 28 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren of her own.
Merrill serves in the Foster Grandparent Program helping the students and their teacher in any way she can.
"I was at home and a lady asked me one day, she said, 'you got a lot of grandchildren, you're crazy about children, you take a lot of pains with children', and she said, 'how would you like to be in a classroom with some', and I said, 'I would love that, because I always loved working with children'," said Merrill.
She has been doing it since then, for more than a year. Merrill has become an invaluable asset to the teachers and students.
"I say she's gold," said Beth Westefeld, first grade teacher. "We don't have assistants at our school in first grade, so she kind of fulfills that role for me."
"I think she's a great assistant, and I think she's very nice," said first grade student Allison Shannon.
"She's a good assistant," said Evan Fleming, a first grade student. "She helps a lot, and she's very nice."
And Merrill says the students have helped her as much as she has helped them; she says she has had a difficult year in her personal life and the kids have been there for her the whole time.
"It has been marvelous," said Merrill. "They've been helpful. They've helped me overcome some problems that I thought would have been harder. But when you got little bitty children, putting their arms around you and helping you, it helps."
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