The New York accent, energy and enthusiasm of Peggy Marcus stands out at Fern School where she volunteers at least twice a week.
“I jump out of bed to go to school!” says the retired meeting planner. “I call them my rug rats, and they get such a kick out of it. There are children in every color of the rainbow from all over the world. It’s a school of mostly immigrants. When I first started volunteering there, the kids said I was white with spots as I have freckles. I had to convince them I didn’t have anything communicable.”
While on the golf course three years ago, Marcus was invited by the school psychologist Joanne Shapiro to volunteer to read to the children. She did that and so much more. The students call her Miss Peggy.
In addition to reading and tutoring “her babies,” she’s also set up a school supply store every Thursday where the students and teacher let her know what they need. She says her husband, Bob, who retired from Sloan Staffing Resources, foots the bills for whatever the school needs including books, musical equipment, uniforms and other school supplies. She gives sweet treats every holiday for the entire campus.
When the school has a fundraiser, the Hawaii Kai resident goes to her own friends and asks them to support the school as she says the children are living in areas such as Kuhio Park Terrace where there is no money.
“The incredible part is what it costs to live here, education is last on the totem pole,” explains Marcus. “Then they judge the school by student test scores and they compare all the students who have English as a second language to the students who have English as their first language, and that’s not fair.”
Fern Librarian Imelda Amano writes MidWeek to say “Miss Peggy is no ordinary school volunteer. I do not know of any other extremely, financially capable volunteer who has adopted a local school in the manner she has.”
Marcus says her challenge is that she gets attached to the children, and then they leave when they’re done with kindergarten through fifth grade.
Her other volunteer activities include working to create a 15-month calendar to benefit breast cancer research. She is also helping out on a book on about 40 success stories from Kalihi public schools which include Fern graduates Mayor Mufi Hannemann. She still helps with hospital galas and theater fundraisers from her other home in Massachusetts.
“I got beamed out of the sky to do this,” Marcus says. “I tell everybody I meet about Fern. All the kids want is to love and to be loved.”
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