Sometimes we start a journey without knowing where it will lead us. Denise Duncan decided that she wanted to “give back,” only knowing that she planned to start volunteering at a hospital familiar to her, and that she wanted to work with babies. That decision brought Denise to the Beaumont Parenting Program for an interview to become a BPP volunteer. That road has since led Denise to become a seven-year (so far) volunteer for the program who has served in three different roles: group leader, hearing screener, and hospital visitor. Her journey has brought continuing friendships with both staff and participants, and it’s brought the program another inspiring volunteer.
Denise is retired and previously worked as an administrator at the First of Michigan brokerage firm. She currently resides in Grosse Pointe Woods with her husband, Bruce. They raised two sons, Alexander, 30, who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Trevor, 25, who lives in Arlington, Virginia. In addition to volunteering for the BPP, Denise enjoys reading, knitting, drawing, redecorating her home, skiing, and travelling with her husband – especially when it lets her spend time with their boys. When asked for her favorite book, Denise responded “whatever she is currently reading,” but recommends “The Secret Garden” by Francis Hodgson Burnett and “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown for children.
Denise is very much a family woman. She spends her time helping new parents learn and grow as they build their budding families. She enjoys her time spent with the BPP participants, and wishes that she could’ve been involved in the program when she was a new mother. She keeps in touch with families who were in groups she has led, and proudly shares that the kids in her first group have started kindergarten (where did the time go?!). Of course, Denise’s commitment to Beaumont families reflects her commitment to her own family. She describes her husband Bruce as her hero, saying that he makes her a better person. Her sons said that their favorite things about their mom are that she encouraged them to do the things they love, and that she gave them the freedom to be themselves.
I asked Denise what advice she would offer to new parents; she would encourage them to enjoy all the moments, and to listen to their kids. Not just when they were having conversations – but when they were hanging out with friends, or even talking to themselves. She also encourages parents to look for the moments when they could be their kids’ friends, and when they need to be their parents. To us all, she says, “Sing as though no one is listening, Dance as though no one is watching, Love as though you’ve never been hurt, Live as though it were heaven on earth!” We are watching though, Denise, and we love the way you’ve danced through the journey that has made you such an asset to the Parenting Program and its families!
– Nicole Capozello, Parenting Program staff