Where Volunteers Make a Difference

Fred Leidel, fondly known as "Grandpa Fred," has spent nearly every Tuesday and Thursday morning over the last six years reading to the kindergarten classroom at his neighborhood school.  This adds up to over 400 hours that Fred has spent at Schenk Elementary.  This is not factoring in the time it takes for him to ride his three-wheel bicycle to and from school, rain or shine, or in the case of Wisconsin winters - snow.  This commitment would be commendable under any circumstances, but to Fred, it is just part of his weekly routine, and something that he enjoys tremendously.  In December, Fred celebrated his 100th birthday, in Madison tradition, at the Nitty Gritty with his family.

At RSVP, we have always advocated that volunteering will keep you younger.  There couldn't be a better spokesperson than Fred to vouch for this.  After he retired from a career as a college professor of engineering and the Associate Dean of Engineering at UW-Madison, Fred continued working - traveling to meet students transferring to the engineering program at UW.  It wasn't until his nineties that he heard of RSVP, in a newspaper article about volunteer needs at Schenk Elementary School.  He has never regretted the decision to volunteer and talks about how much fun the kids are and how smart and unique they can be.

In addition to the volunteer hours Fred puts in at Schenk Elementary, he also participates in the Madison Memorial High School History Project.  Each year, volunteers are invited to Memorial to take part in small-group interviews on what their lives were like during the Great Depression and WWII.  Fred enjoys the opportunity to share his experience first-hand and recognizes the value this can have over students learning out of a textbook.

Grandpa Fred is certainly proof that volunteering knows no age limit.