Don & Mary Riggle

Don & Mary Riggle

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

Don, and Mary Riggle, 71- and 67-year-old volunteers for The Children’s Home Society – Buckner Division in Jacksonville, are pleased to share information about the important work done by the society. They adopted their son, David Reese Riggle, 34, in 1978 from the Orlando Children’s Home Society.
“Our son encouraged us to volunteer after we moved here in 2011 from Kissimmee. The children at the Children’s Home really need grandparent figures in their lives. Retirees in good health who have patience and love for children – who have free time – can really help these kids. The staff there is wonderful, too. They work with us and are always available to help in any way,” Mary said. “Don and I taught school for thirty years. We now tutor about eight to ten children during the school year in co-ed reading classes in a specially set-up classroom.”
The Riggles are currently the only couple available to tutor middle schoolers and they said many more tutoring volunteers are needed. Volunteers go through a screening process that includes an interview, a background check, finger printing and orientation, according to Myra Simmons, Children’s Home Society Development Specialist. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available.
“Every time is different. Some days are diamonds and we make progress and get ahead…then some days are like stones…we may do no tutoring at all, just help or comfort the children. I always take my special brownies and that helps everything. I like to spoil them,” Mary said. “We each have become attached to the kids…if we were younger there are a couple of them we would definitely adopt!”
The Riggles particularly encourage others to consider adoption. They have concern for the teens who age out of the system at age eighteen.
“When the children turn eighteen, if they don’t go to college, go to work or join the armed forces then they are truly out on their own,” Mary said. “These kids all just want a calm, steady, stable life where they can depend upon someone. One of the girls told me that she just wants a home with a mother and a father.”
The Riggles are no strangers to volunteer work. They have wonderful memories of a favorite volunteer activity some years back when they lived in Santa Claus, Indiana.
“We were the volunteer elves who helped Santa by writing letters in response to the thousands of children who wrote letters to him every year,” she said.
The couple is active in many organizations, including their church, Southside United Methodist. Mary is a member of Jacksonville’s Kanyuksa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She knows a great deal about genealogical research as a result of her involvement with DAR. She is also active with the Democratic Women’s local group. Don is a 50-year member of his Masonic Lodge in Gentryville, Indiana. Over the years they both caught a serious case of the travel bug and there is no recovery in sight.
“While we were teaching, we took 29 straight trips overseas to Europe with students. Don loves Paris, I love Venice and we both love cruises. Our next trips will be touring the Baltic countries and we want to tour the Southwest by car,” Mary said. “We like to work out together at the Jewish Community Center. The truth is, we have been married 44 years and enjoy doing everything together. We’re best buddies.”
Their greatest common interest may be their pride in son David, 34, who has continued the family tradition of community service. He is a volunteer on the Children’s Home Society Board – Buckner Division and works in Jacksonville as the Dalton Agency Director of Advertising.
“Don and I are both graduates of Ole Miss but we also love the Florida Gators and the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Mary said. “Because as the saying goes…our money went to the University of Florida….David is a UF graduate!”

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