Eighty-six year old Zosia Damis has volunteered her time to work with Custer Elementary students for the past 23 years and is still going strong! After she retired from a career in real estate, she had lots of time on her hands. She started volunteering at a nursing home but likes working with children better.
She began by volunteering once a week at Custer. Now she volunteers four mornings a week, when she can. She reads with the students and helps out however she can.
“Despite increasing health problems, Zosia still comes to work with students,” said Custer principal, Lisa Stevens. “The students adore her!
The kids also love listening to stories of her childhood. Zosia was 11-years-old and living in Poland when Germany invaded her country, starting World War II. Zosia, her mother and sister were able to escape to Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic). Her father was drafted into the army as a doctor and was never heard from again. She and her family relocated to the United States after the war. She had friends who lived in Washington state, heard of Ft. Lewis from U.S. soldiers and settled in the Lakewood area. Her husband was a Lakewood judge.
In 2012, Custer students and staff honored her with a quilt and a book about her life. The students interviewed her and illustrated parts of the book with her stories. Zosia says working with the students helps her forget her health issues and makes her feel better. She says it’s very important to be a role model for students and encourages other retirees to help in schools.
“The schools have a big need for volunteers and it’s really easy to do,” said Zosia. “Come and spend an hour or two working with children who really need it.”