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Don McGregor )
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Don McGregor has the easy manner of a laid back retiree, but once he starts talking, you realize he is a firebrand. Since retiring on Jan. 1, 2014, McGregor has joined the Rotary Club of Guilford, become a commissioner in the Madison Senior Softball League (in which he also plays), become a volunteer osprey nest observer monitoring a platform in Hammonasset State Park, and begun a mentoring relationship with a 4th grade boy in the Guilford Youth Mentoring Program (GYM).
GYM, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, is Guilford’s award-winning school-based mentoring program, through which adults provide a consistent and caring presence to a young person. Two fellow Rotarians, Donald Baechler and Ralph Schoenmann, introduced McGregor to the program and suggested that he become a mentor.
“At the time, my schedule seemed filled with frivolous sports and I wanted something more business-like and scheduled,” McGregor remembered.
McGregor and his wife Denice both grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with bachelor of science degrees in accounting. He took a job that became a 30-year career with AT&T, relocating him to five states along with stints in England, Israel, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. He took a project in Anchorage, Alaska for a few years, where he and his wife “loved every minute of it,” but returned to Guilford last August after the project ended.
Fortuitously, McGregor was able to spend 10 years in Guilford during 1999-2008 as CFO of AT&T’s telephone company operations in Connecticut. He coached his children’s softball and baseball teams, was active with Guilford Boy Scout Troop 474, and both of his kids graduated from Guilford High School. At this point, he admitted that he had a selfish reason for becoming a mentor.
“My children are grown now, but I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed spending time around kids until they were gone. I needed my ‘kid fix!’ For me, mentoring is helping fill a void,” he said.
McGregor enjoys playing many sports including basketball, golf, hockey, softball, ping pong, skis (water and snow), and road and mountain biking. He also square dances in Old Saybrook with his wife and recently made his stage debut in the First Congregational Church’s production of Fiddler on the Roof as a Russian soldier, which he described fondly as “the opportunity to embarrass myself in a variety of dance numbers.”
McGregor and his mentee are at Baldwin now and they spend most of their time playing games. The move from elementary to middle school can be daunting, even for a mentor, but by his third visit his mentee’s classmates were welcoming him.
“I felt great and my mentee, who used to speak in one word sentences, is talking in paragraphs now. It’s so great to see him grow like that,” McGregor said.
GYM currently has about 160 mentor pairs in all seven Guilford schools, but there is always a list of students waiting for a mentor and the program always need more men. To mentoring or support the program, call Guilford Youth Mentoring at 203-453-2741 ext 7, email email@example.com, or visit www.guilfordmentoring.org.
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