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Retiree volunteers time at Safe Harbor
After spending 28 years working in the Cobb County School System, Vicki Skywark retired to St. Simons Island six years ago for a slower pace of living.

It was an extreme change from the busy city of Atlanta, where she had lived.

Life in retirement wasn't as good as she thought it would be and she soon became restless from too much inactivity. She joined book clubs and other local organizations to keep busy, but the one thing she missed most of all was being around children.

So a year-and-half ago, Skywark curbed her craving to be back in a classroom setting teaching children by volunteering her time at the Safe Harbor Children's Center, 2215 Gloucester St., Brunswick.

Three days a week, Skywark teaches children of all ages a variety of arts and crafts there. She teaches them how to make bracelets out of different colored rubberbands and how to knit different items of clothing, which is one of her favorite pastimes.

"When they get busy with a project, it calms them," she said. "They're quiet, they're focused, they're thinking. They're not bored, they're not watching TV until their eyes cross.

"It's a great experience for them to just feel that settling feeling that doing something with your hands can provide."

Skywark, who received a doctorate in education psychology from the University of Georgia, adds that finishing an arts and crafts project makes the children feel like they've truly accomplished something.

"They're really proud of what they've done," she said. "That feeling of being proud is very affirming for your self-esteem."

The 65-year-old admits that volunteering at the center fills a void in her life.

On top of not being around school children, Skywark has two grandchildren, ages 18 and 16, who live in Tennessee and are well on their way to being young adults and aren't her little "grandbabies" anymore.

Being at the shelter gives her an opportunity to step into the grandmother role on a weekly basis.

"I don't have grandkids in the area, so this is sort of an opportunity to be like a grandma to these kids," she said. "They make me feel like I have a purpose."

* Coastal People appears Mondays. Contact Martin Rand III at mrand@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 324 to suggest a person for a column.



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