Community Hero - Celebrating Claire Cousins
For anyone who has worked in and around Safety Harbor or Oldsmar or had kids in elementary school in Safety Harbor, you would probably be familiar with Claire Cousins. If not, well, you’re in for a treat! I met Claire through the Top of the Bay Kiwanis Club – a member-based global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time (for more information visit www.topofthebaykiwanis.org or email email@example.com). The children in our community have been blessed to have Claire, who donates endless hours to the children of the community. Why does she do it? Claire says it’s because she likes the kids, enjoys being with them, and they need it.
About Claire ...
Claire is the secretary for the board of directors for the Top of the Bay Kiwanis club, but in addition she is also a member of the Safety Harbor club. She joined the Kiwanis club in 2006 after retiring (for a second time!) from Pinellas County School district. She began working at Pinellas County School district at Safety Harbor Elementary in 1991 after retiring in Maine. She hired in as support staff, decided she wanted to do more and went back to school earning her Masters degree and moving into a School Counselor position in 1996. In Maine, Claire taught school for 25 years before “retiring” and moving to Florida.
When she is not helping out in the community or at the schools (which, from what I can tell is mostly never :)) Claire spends her time reading a good mystery.
How Claire Helps the Children In Our Community
Claire helps the children in our community through volunteer hours with Kiwanis and volunteer hours directly through the school district. Kiwanis offers programs in schools for every level of education. For elementary school children there is the K-Kids Club; for Middle Schools there is the Builders Club; for High School there is the Key Club; and for College aged students there is the Circle K clubs. These clubs help children learn leadership through serving their community. Claire provides guidance and leadership to the K-Kids Clubs in our area and donates many hours of her time in doing so! Claire has also works directly at the Pinellas County Schools as a school volunteer and mentor.
Claire's Passion for Empowering Children
One of the most personally rewarding programs that she supports is mentoring students. Pinellas County School District has a current program called Lunch Pals whereby mentors currently visit the school during the lunch time and sit with a child, mostly just listening and providing support for the children and being an additional presence of a caring adult.
At one time Pinellas County started a program called Doorways (now a state run program called Take Stock in Children, still offered in Pinellas County Schools). The program provides scholarships to children whom may not otherwise get to college. Claire has mentored around 9 kids in this particular program. She has worked with these children from elementary age, though middle school, high school, and college. You can see the pleasure that Claire gets out of watching these children grow into young adults and succeed through this scholarship program.
Here's How You Can Help
The public schools and the teachers in the schools need our help. Things that we would never consider if we did not walk in their shoes … like someone available to help kindergarteners open the packaging for their lunch … go under-resourced in our public schools. Teachers spend hours of their personal time and many of their own dollars to create a wonderful learning environment for the children in public schools and the schools could use volunteers. If you could spend 30 minutes, once a week, you could quite literally change a life. Below are links to resources to sign up for volunteer programs. Thanks to Claire Cousins, and all the other wonderful volunteers, for making a difference to the students and the teachers in our community!
Take Stock in Children – Volunteer, Donate
Pinellas County School District Volunteer information, Pinellas school volunteer, mentorship program volunteer
Top of the Bay Kiwanis Club – Membership, donate, come to a meeting as a visitor