Hometown Hero: School Volunteer Brightening Students Days

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For many children when you say the word "school," a number of images come to mind. Homework, lunch or even recess for the younger students.

But at Cumberland Trace Elementary in Bowling Green, there's one person most students think of when they think of their time at school.
Meet 65-year-old Vernon Hale.

"The kids love him. We all call him Grandpa. We don't call him by his first name. Here he's Grandpa," said Trish Seifert, employee at Cumberland Trace Elementary.

Vernon Hale is a volunteer at Cumberland Trace Elementary with a permanent spot both outside and inside the school.

"All the kids love him. They hang all over him when he's here," said Vicki Cataldo, Special Education Instructional Assistant.

"He helps in the cafeteria in the morning and he helps make sure the kids are doing what they're supposed to be doing," Second Grade teacher, Melinda Riedel added.

Vernon Hale dedicates his time to all the children and teachers everyday.

"I help the kids get seated, help them get their food, open up things for them if necessary," assured Vernon Hale, the Hometown Hero.

"This man has wings. If there was ever an angel this is the person who has come to take care of those kids," Vicki Cataldo said.

"He always has a smile on his face. He touches them and pats them and makes them feel like they're special. Every child is special to him," Melinda Riedel added.

Just ask the kids and they'll agree. He's more than just a volunteer.

"Every morning he has a hug for me," said Second Grade student, Leah Guelde.

"If he wasn't here then the day would be pretty dull," added Second Grade student, Emma Brittenham.

And these children are what "Grandpa" Hale says makes his day complete.

"Children are what its all about and helping them and helping them enjoy life, helping them have the attention that maybe some of them do not get at home, that's what makes a big difference," Vernon Hale said.

He was surprised to find out he's this week's Hometown Hero.

"Oh me! I didn't have any idea! I think you could've had a lot of better Hometown Heroes but I love what I do and maybe that's the reason they asked me," Hale added.

But this second grader says she knows why.

"He kinda completes the whole school," Leah Guelde said.

"It's an honor to be here," Hale admitted.

Teachers at Cumberland Trace say Mr. Hale even acts as an adoptive parent for some children at the school and other schools.

He says although he only has two god-grandchildren at the elementary school, he would still volunteer his time even if they weren't there.

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