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Frances Glasgow

June 13, 1989....The Reminder
Many Organizations Benefit From Work of Hastings Woman

By Kathleen Scott

Frances Glasgow apparently doesn't know how to say "no" to volunteer work.  Numerous local church, health and children's organizations have been benefactors of Frances' time.

If there were a "Mother Theresa of Barry County" she would probably be it some say, although she quickly suggest the name of another woman to mention.

For decades of work with Catholic Daughters, Frances received an award from the church group in 1988.  But honors or recognition are not the cause of her chronic volunteering.

"I just don't think about it.  I do what I like to do and I'm able to do it. The pay is bad, the reward is good." she said with a smile.

"To me, volunteering is important.  I know a lot of things could not survive without volunteers.  I didn't have to work and I know a lot of people who work and wanted to volunteer, but can't so I do."

She does have some principles when it comes to her volunteer work, however.  "My family's always been my priority and church is right up there on top, too." she said.

Among the list of organizations Frances has helped are: Pennock Hospital, Provincial House, Thornapple Manor, Hastings Area Schools, St. Rose, Boy Scouts, BlueBirds, Barry County Hospice, the American Cancer Society, Barry County Red Cross and dozens of neighborhood children.

A graduate of Barry County Normal School, the former Frances Peacock of Lake Odessa, taught at a one room school near Clarksville.  Later, she taught a class of 42 second graders (30 of whom were boys) at a Catholic school in Lansing.

Then, she married Duane Glasgow.  Having six children -- Bob, Don, John, Jim, Joe and Mariann -- in six years abruptly halted her teaching career.

Sons Jim and Joe are twins and were a year and a day old when Mariann was born, so Frances had four children within 26 1/2 months.  She also had five pre-schoolers at one time.

But her half dozen youngsters were not enough for her.  She worked at home babysitting and took neighborhood children under her wing to bake cookies and other goodies.

Once her children were in school, she became a room mother, shifting from different rooms, grade levels and schools for eight years.  Her sons joined Boy Scouts and needed chauffeurs. (She probably would have been a leader if Moms were allowed).  Her daughter joined Bluebirds so Mom continued her chauffeur duties and became a leader.

She taught CCD at St. Rose because she figured that if she was going to have to wait while her youngsters were in class, she might as well be in class, too -- as a teacher.

"I'm a person who feels that if you allow your kids to be involved in stuff, you have to be involved, too."  Frances said, adding that five of her children were in band from fifth grade to 12th grade.

"I'm really thankful that I could get by without working so I could be home for the kids and be involved with the things they were in." Frances said.

She did weekly volunteer work at Northeastern Elementary's Library until the state decided that all library help must be certified.  Frances also worked with handicapped people until the same ruling was applied to that work.  She spent time in Pennock's Pediatrics Department, visiting with children until rules changed and family members were allowed to stay with the young patients.  But she didn't leave the hospital.  She continues to spend Wednesdays there as a volunteer courier.  She follows eight routes every hour on the hour, picking up and delivering folders, papers, specimens and whatever else needs transporting.  Sometimes she delivers mail and flowers if the regular escorts are busy.

"I don't run anymore, though.  Now I go slower and use the elevator." said Frances.  "I love it. Wednesday is my day out." The hospital, or at least the surgical waiting room, benefits from Frances' work in another way.  She usually bakes a dozen or so cookies for the friends and family members who wait there during an operation.

She also bakes for other people , including recently windowed women.  Seven years ago, Frances developed breast cancer and underwent the first of three major surgeries in a year.  As her medications and treatments increased, her pace and volunteer time decreased.  But she didn't slow down for long.

Recovered, Frances picked up the pace again.  She even fit in a four week tour of Ireland with her mother and five nuns.  The group is planning a return trip to the Emerald Isle next year and Frances hopes she will be able to join them.

One of the new projects she took on was working with Barry County Hospice.  A half dozen patients were in her care.  She would sit with them, wash dishes or do other small chores while the main caretaker left for a few hours.  "I really enjoyed that." related Frances. "To me that was something I really wanted to do. I'd been there.  I'd had chemotherapy.  I'd had radiology. I had had cancer before.  I felt I knew more about how people felt when they were ill.  I didn't think I'd die of cancer when I was taking care of them, but I still felt I understood them.  It's something that's hard to tell people how you feel, but if you've been there, you know."

Frances said she thought the work was good therapy for her, even though she thought she had beaten cancer.  After several years of being free of the disease, she started suffering from pains in her side and back.  X-rays in March showed that the breast cancer had reappeared in her spine and in one rib.

Frances is being treated with an experimental drug that has been relatively successful.  She's waiting to see if she can overcome cancer again.  To combat emotional stress that accompanies cancer, she took a six week "I Can Cope" course after her first bout.  She later was a charter member of the Focus on Living, a local cancer support group.  She was in charge of telephoning people for monthly meetings and tried new dessert recipes on the group.

"You go and talk to other people.  You think you've got troubles and then you hear what other people are going through." she said.

In better health, she did double-time for Barry County Red Cross.  She volunteered at the blood drives for 10 years, registering donors and donating enough blood to earn a four gallon pin.

Frances has canvassed door-to-door to collect money for the American Cancer Society for 15 years, including this year.  The local chapter of ACS has done away with neighborhood crusade for a couple of years, she said.  When she saw that the project was beginning again and door knocking volunteers were needed, she obliged on the condition that she could have her old route back.

Despite the pain and fatigue caused by her cancer, she still traversed the neighborhood, talking to everyone eye-to-eye and getting a "yes, no or maybe".

Frances lost a sister to cancer at the age of 33, "so that's very important to me." she said.

As a 20 year mission chairman and 30 year officer for Catholic Daughters, Frances has ripped hundreds of old sheets in her day.  The strips are rolled and sent to Third World countries where they are sterilized and used as bandages in hospitals and leper colonies.

Old shirts undergo surgery of their own at the hands of the women's group.  Cuffs, collars and buttons are removed, new hems are put in, tie strings are attached, and the old shirts become makeshift hospital gowns in the underdeveloped nations.  "That's how desperate they are," said Frances, adding that she has received letters from recipients who are brimming with gratitude.  "Most people would burn them up.  We save what we can." she explained.  She usually puts at least one bar of soap in each box of bandages.  The weight of the cleanser prevents the shipment of too many.  A thankful person in Africa wrote and told her that a bar of soap cost the equivalent of a week's worth of wages.

Another project of the Catholic Daughters is collecting cash register tapes.  The group gets 1% of every $1,000 worth of tapes it turns in.  The project is not without Frances' assistance.  She helps clean St. Rose church and has belonged to church guilds that hold bingo games (fruit and jewelry are the prizes) at Thornapple Manor and birthday parties at Provincial House.

Frances diid a lot of baby-sitting when she was younger and continues to work now for her three grandchildren; Amy, Matthew and Nicholas.  Part of babysitting them includes escorting the youngsters to preschool parties.  Baked goodies are a must for those parties so she always lets one pair of little hands in on the preparation.  "The kids like to make things with you, so they help decorate cupcakes and make cookies."  said Frances.

It doesn't look like Frances plans to stop her volunteer work.  She has been eyeing one organization, Love Inc., but has not been able to join its helping ranks because of her health.

But she hasn't given up.  Maybe she'll volunteer there after she returns from Ireland next. year....

She never did make that second trip to Ireland.  My mother passed away on a Thursday night on March 25, 1993. Most of her children were by her side.

She would be very proud to see how cancer is losing its battle on people every year.  If she were alive, she would also be right there praying and helping the families that were dealing with this awful disease.

I think about her every day.  I miss her every day.  Words cannot express the loss I feel.  She wasn't there when I get married. She won't be there when I have my first child. Now that I am older, I can appreciate her as a friend and mentor - but she's gone.  I can't just call her up on the phone like I used to.  I used to talk to her on the phone every day.  I have so many things I want to ask her about being a woman and mother.  I can't ask her and it hurts.

But I know she will always be with me in spirit.  I pray that none of you out there have to go through this with any family member.....