Back to school with Grandma Rosemary

Hello there! My name is Rosemary Havens and I am a longtime Elder Mentor volunteer in Anchorage. I am 91 years old, and I was born in New York City. I love music, all kinds of music. When I was 14, I worked in the movie theater sorting the candy for sale then moved to cashier. I heard the music and I was so drawn to it. That's where I saw my first opera on film. Beacon Theatre in New York. It's still there. I came to work early one day just so I could see the opera. It was "La Traviata." Magical!

I've lived in Anchorage since 2004. Now there are four generations in the family here. I used to stay every summer in Eagle River visiting family, and then I moved up to be closer. I lived in Puerto Rico for over 30 years. My home was right across the street from the ocean. I love the climate on the island. Some of my family still lives there.

And here, there is so much wildlife outside my window. Recently there's been this rooster wandering around. I also see moose, bear, magpies, robins, you name it. I love getting up in the morning. I get up at seven o'clock. I get dressed, dressed like I'm going out. And if you don't do that, you'll get into a rut. I come in and sit here, watch the news, and have breakfast. I'm ready for the day. That's one reason I love the Elder Mentor Program. It gets me out there meeting people and being part of the community.

Kids like me! Everyone calls me Grandma. What else could they ever call me? I love doing puzzles with the kids because they learn so quickly. Isn't it wonderful to help children? To mentor children? I enjoyed last summer so much because I was volunteering in the summer school program at Wonder Park. That was the first time I've ever taken my scooter out because I didn't know how much I had to walk. And the kids and I had so much fun together.

I spent five years volunteering with Elisabeth at Muldoon Elementary, and now we've been friends for about 11 years. I love her husband's soup. We did so many great projects with the students. Then I volunteered at the Native school in Muldoon for three years up until the pandemic. I volunteered with pre-kinder, third grade and fourth grade. Our fourth grade students made handmade drums. I still have my beautiful drum made by our classroom teacher. The whole school went to the gymnasium every morning and pledged allegiance to the flag in both Yupik and English. Everyone knew each other so well. All the students and staff would go berry picking together, too. It was so wonderful. I am still so close with the teachers and staff from there. We made beautiful bonds.

Retired teacher shares her praise

Elisabeth A. Kachline, "grateful retired classroom teacher," shares these compliments about Grandma Rosemary:

I don't remember the specific date the Vice Principal and Grandma Rosemary walked into my room while the students were at lunch and recess, but the moment wonderfully rests in my memory. Rosemary was to spend a little time in my room and then go to the other kindergarten classrooms. We clicked. She stayed with me that day and for the next five years.

Grandma Rosemary has an extraordinary personality. She is always positive. She connects with students, especially those with Spanish as a first language. The kindergarten teachers would often get together at lunch to share classroom happenings. Grandma would often bring foods to share along with her life experiences, humor and wisdom.

Today, five years after retirement, we are friends and as sisters from a different mother. We get together quite often. She arranges haircut days for Muldoon Manor and me; and we share a love of many things, including 49th State Brewing Root Beer.

The Elder Mentor Program is a marvelous resource for classroom teachers. I will be forever grateful to these wonderful ladies who encouraged students and me with their presence and life wisdom.

Join the Elder Mentor program in your community

The Elder Mentor Program is currently accepting applications for the school year. Benefits for qualifying seniors age 55+ include paid time off, a tax-free stipend, paid holidays, free meals and travel assistance. Please call for more information and to apply, 907-865-7276. Check out the online interest form and learn more at If you are a school interested in having Elder Mentors volunteer in your classrooms, please contact us. You can also reach the team via e-mail at > And search "Elder Mentor" on Facebook to find us there.