When Virginia Mathis retired from her job as a bookkeeper at Citizens and Southern Bank and became a Richland 1 volunteer 20 years ago, she didn’t place a timetable on how long she would serve.
Today the 89-year-old is still making her way up and down the halls at Logan Elementary School as one of the school district’s longest-serving volunteers.
Mathis spends three days a week at Logan, reading to students, helping them with their math and accompanying them on trips to the library. It’s a labor of love for the veteran volunteer, who said she has no plans to leave anytime soon.
Mathis spoke recently about her service and how it inspires her, offering some insights about volunteering and today’s students.
How did you become involved in the district’s volunteer program?
Mathis: “I belonged to the Earlewood Park Club and a teacher came from McCants (Elementary) and asked for volunteers (to help administer standardized tests) and I did. It was really easy.”
What do you consider one of the most important aspects of your service?
Mathis: “I think teaching them to learn to read is important. If you can read, you can get along better in life.”
What is one of the most rewarding parts of your service?
Mathis: “It’s especially nice when they learn to read. When they learn a new word, they want to read it to me and I let them. I learn from them. It’s nice to be needed and to be loved.”
How have students changed through the years?
Mathis: “They have so many other interests (outside the classroom). It’s harder for the teachers to get their attention. But most (of the students) try to learn.”
And how have they stayed the same?
Mathis: “The children want your attention. They like to be loved. Anytime you can brag on something they have done, that’s important.”
What’s the best advice you have for potential volunteers?
Mathis: “You have to let the students know that you care for them. When somebody cares for you, you try harder.”
What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from the school?
Mathis: “I cook and I like to work in the yard. I do puzzles. I read. And I love to go to the grocery store.”
How long do you plan to continue volunteering?
Mathis: “I don’t know. I enjoy it. I’m not one for planning all ahead like some people. I just go with the flow and I try to make each day count. I love the children.”
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.