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Interview with Gloria Dzingeleski, April 20, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Gloria Dzingeleski, April 20, 2006
April 20, 2006
In this interview, Gloria Dzingeleski shares anecdotes regarding her volunteer work, which includes participation in the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program and assisting at the Wilmington Senior Citizens Center. She also serves as a guardian ad litem, representing abused and neglected children in the Juvenile Court system. Mrs. Dzingeleski also discusses the path that led her to volunteerism, including some of her memories of growing up during World War II.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Dzingeleski, Gloria Interviewer: Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview: 4/20/2006 Series: SENC Volunteers Length 56 minutes

Zarbock: Good morning. My name is Paul Zarbock, a staff person with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington's Randall Library. This is part of the Special Collections grouping called Notable Volunteers. Today's date is the 20th of April in the year 2006. And we're sitting outside of the Senior Citizen Center here in Wilmington, North Carolina on a beautiful, beautiful spring day. Our interviewee today is Gloria Jane Dzingeleski.

Gloria Dzingeleski: Dzingeleski.

Zarbock: Dzingeleski, who is a volunteer here at the center. Good morning. How are you?

Gloria Dzingeleski: I'm fine thank you, Mr. Zarbock.

Zarbock: Could you tell me a little bit about your background, family background? By the way, you're going to be hearing some background traffic, which I hope is not that disconcerting. Let's go. Well, so tell me a little about your family background.

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well I was uh.. born in Chicago 68 years ago. I'm the oldest of three children, two girls and a boy. Uh.. my father was a laborer and my mother was a uh.. stay-at-home mother. Uh.. we were I guess you would call us uh.. upper lower class uh.. in some ways. And uh.. in my schooling I went to Catholic schools for 16 years, uh.. eight years of elementary school and high school and uh.. then I went into college. I graduated from DePaul University in Chicago with a degree in psychology.

Zarbock: And where did you start off your employment career like?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, I started working when I was uh.. 15. I had a part time job then working in an office and uh.. after college I was hired there full time. And uh.. I had an interruption in my college career. I had gone to college for two years and then uh.. had become somewhat ill and also could not make up my mind what I wanted to major in, so I quit and went to work full time and uh.. planned to get my degree by going to night school. Well that proved to be so tedious and I eventually decided to quit my job and go back to college full time. Uh.. so then after college I got a job uh.. as a uh.. assistant to a company that published uh... educational textbooks and psychological testing uh.. since I had the degree in psychology. And I stayed there until I got married. I quit work for 12 years to raise my two sons and then I went back to work and uh.. I went back to work for the federal government. I went back on a part time basis because I wasn't sure that I wanted to leave my children without a mother at home all the time. And so, my uh.. youngest son at that time was ten years old and uh.. found out that it worked out very well. And I started in the clerical section and eventually worked my way up to the professional level.

Zarbock: Now where were you living at that time?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Uh.. I was living in uh.. Baltimore. We had uh.. my husband had worked for Social Security uh.. in Chicago and he got transferred to Baltimore, so we all moved to Baltimore. And I went to work for the agency that administers Medicare and I eventually became a Medicare regulation writer, which I did for about ten years. I wrote the documents that got published in the Federal Register telling uh.. what we planned to do in the way of regulations and what our legal basis was and why we were doing them. And I wrote the text that went into the Code of Federal Regulations. And I did that for the last ten years of my career and also taught uh.. legal writing for non-attorneys to the staff and I enjoyed that very much uh.. but retired uh.. when I was eligible because my husband had already been retired seven years earlier. And then we moved down here to Wilmington.

Zarbock: What motivated you to move to Wilmington?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, my husband and I when he retired we were like going to different places uh.. for vacations, thinking where we would like to retire. And I think uh.. Wilmington was about the fourth place we came to. We went to vacation at Wrightsville Beach and I said to my husband, "This is it. I don't want to go look at any other places. Wilmington is the right size." You know I had been uh.. a city girl, you know, lived for 30 years in Chicago, 29 years in Baltimore. Uh.. I wanted a place that had enough activities going on, enough cultural events. Uh.. I was particularly drawn by the fact the university was here and we could take advantage of all the things that it had to offer. And so, uh.. we subscribed to the uh.. Wilmington Star. I wasn't ready, I wasn't eligible for retirement yet, so for about three years we had the Wilmington Star sent to us at home so we knew what was going on there. And, I said "This is the place" and we are so happy we moved here.

Zarbock: Well, of course, the next uh.. logical leap would be once you got here uh.. how did you get connected with the uh.. Senior Citizen Center and how did you get connected with the Senior Citizen Center as a volunteer?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, my husband had been a volunteer with the tax counseling for the elderly program in Baltimore.

Zarbock: What was it called?

Gloria Dzingeleski: The tax counseling program for the elderly.

Zarbock: Uh huh.

Gloria Dzingeleski: It's the equivalent of what we call the VITA program here in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. He had done that for seven years and he really enjoyed it. And, of course, we had seen in the Wilmington Star that they had a similar program here, and Cheryl Hoffman's [ph?] name had been given as a contact. So, when we moved down here uh.. we came in very shortly after we had moved in here to talk with Cheryl. And uh.. we were a little too late to get into the training class for that year, but the following year we did and uh.. I uh.. took the training as well and found out that I really, really enjoyed uh.. this. Uh.. so one of the motivations for my getting into uh.. volunteer activity uh.. is actually sort of selfish. Uh.. I got into the VITA program because uh.. my husband when he was doing tax counseling for the elderly uh.. did it at a retirement home where uh.. many widows had uh.. sold their assets, their invested stocks uh.. in order to have the up front money to enter, not realizing that they were going to have to pay capital gains and not knowing uh.. the cost basis of their stock, uh.. not even knowing uh.. much about their own investments because their husbands had handled everything. And I made up my mind that that was going to happen to me and that uh.. I was going to take this tax training course. Now I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it and I said, "Well, if I find out that it's not something that I feel comfortable doing or that I want to do, I will at least repay them for giving me the course by being a support staff or a clerical." Well I discovered I absolutely love it. Uh.. I'm one of these weird people that when the tax season is over I'm sorry it's over. I- I'm a manual preparer. I don't prepare on the computer uh.. because I love puzzles and to me it's like a puzzle putting it all together, seeing how it develops and uh.. meeting the people, sitting there and people coming and they are so grateful for the help. And some of them uh.. are in very dire financial situations and they really can't afford to go to a paid preparer. So this is a wonderful, wonderful service.

Zarbock: Is there a charge for your service?

Gloria Dzingeleski: No, there is no charge for our service.

Zarbock: Is there an upper income level that-- what are the criteria?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Uh.. there really is uh.. an upper income level but we never impose it uh.. and there is no age limit. If someone comes here and they want us to prepare their taxes, we will prepare them as long as it's within the scope of our training. Uh.. there are certain things we cannot do. We will not-- we do do self employment but we won't do taxes for a business that's claiming expenses over $5,000. Uh.. we don't get into depreciation or stocks or rental property where they are depreciating. That's the end of our training, although many of our volunteers uh.. have a professional background that they would be able to do it if we were allowed to do it. We have many CPAs and people who have worked for H&R Block and now come in and do it for free.

Zarbock: So, one of the things that uh.. to which I've been alerted is that many volunteers come in, as did you, with a certain set of skills and through volunteering these skills are added to with the other skills and experiences. Has this been-- you're uh..

Gloria Dzingeleski: Oh, definitely. Uh.. maybe not so much in this particular volunteer activity but there are other volunteer activities that I'm involved in that I have found to be really growth opportunities, and uh...

Zarbock: Tell me about that.

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, one of them is that I'm a guardian ad litem. Uh.. I don't know if you know what a guardian ad litem is, but when a child comes into the Juvenile Court system because they've either been abused or neglected, a volunteer guardian ad litem is appointed for that child by the court to be that child's voice to the court and to receive a court order or an appointment that allows the guardian ad litem to have access to confidential information to investigate the situation, to advocate on behalf of the child. And so what you do is you uh.. study the situation. You meet with the child. And then you prepare a written report to the court uh.. making a recommendation as to what you think is in the best interest of the child. Uhm.. the Department of Social Services also makes a recommendation uh.. most frequently uh.. the recommendations mesh. When they don't, then the judge decides whose recommendation he will accept.

Zarbock: Well, did you volunteer to be a volunteer in the ad litem program?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Yes, I did. Uh.. I had uh.. read about the guardian ad litems in the volunteer connection section of the Wilmington Star and uh.. it was something that I said, "Well maybe I should do that." Uh.. but I didn't jump into it right away. Uhm.. I wasn't sure that I had the qualifications for it uh.. and it was something I prayed over and the idea just would not go away that maybe this is something you should do. So, finally I said, "Okay, we're going to try. We're going to take the training. We'll give it a try." And uh.. I took the training and I've been a guardian ad litem for four and a half--

Zarbock: Who provided the training and how long was the training and where was it done?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Uh.. the guardian ad litem training was provided by the guardian ad litem staff. Uh.. it was done uh.. at various locations uh.. usually churches donate uh.. space for us to hold the training there. And uh.. the training was, I think it was about 20-some hours uh.. but I-- but there's also a continuing ongoing training uh.. held uh.. where experts in various fields are brought in and they conduct training sessions. Uh.. and we have a-- we have a supervisor that we work under. Uh.. the supervisor uh.. is there to provide assistance when we need it but the guardian ad litem is the one who is making the recommendation and their recommendation is never overruled by a supervisor. But uh.. because the supervisors have so much experience, uh.. if you have good sense, if you are faced with a situation you're going to turn to your supervisor for some advice. Uhm.. I eventually uh.. took a training. I was sent uh.. to Raleigh for three days to take training to become a trainer and so uh.. I have done some training uh.. but I have been so busy with other things that particularly during the tax season that I just don't make myself available for training.

Zarbock: But, again, for the purpose of clarity in years to come when this tape is being seen, when perhaps you and I are long gone and laws change, the social order changes, uh.. your role is not one of an attorney is that correct?

Gloria Dzingeleski: That's correct. Uh.. there is an attorney advocate who uh.. represents us in court and uh.. there is one attorney advocate uh.. for all of New Hanover County which is--

Zarbock: Represents you or represents the child?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Represents uh.. the child. Uh.. she is the one who speaks to the court for us uh.. although if a guardian ad litem is able it is strongly recommended that the guardian ad litem attend all the court hearings as well as turning in their written report. Uh.. you may occasionally be called upon to testify. Uh.. in my four and a half years I've only been called to testify once. Uh.. but uh.. generally if there is an issue that you feel very strongly about and you want to make sure that the judge understands it uh.. and even emphasize, you know, what you have said in your written report uh.. I meet with our attorney and uh.. uh.. brief her on it and ask her to make a very strong appeal or to make clear. Or there have been times when uhm.. not being a shy person I have felt that the judge needs to say something I will stand up uh.. because I'm seated at the table alongside of the attorney.

Zarbock: And you're sworn in?

Gloria Dzingeleski: And I'm not always-- I'm not sworn in until like if I was-- I get called to the stand.

Zarbock: Right.

Gloria Dzingeleski: It's uh.. much more informal in uh.. Juvenile Court.

Zarbock: It's really a hearing more than a trial as such.

Gloria Dzingeleski: It's a hearing that's right, uh huh.

Zarbock: Quickly, would you mind, thoroughly disguising uhm.. names or any other method of identification, could you give us kind of a sketch of a uh.. a case that illustrates why you were called in and what did you do?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Okay. Well I can talk about one case because it made the papers here in Wilmington. Uh.. it was the case of a mother who severely burned a 2-year-old child by dipping her in a tub of scalding uh.. water because she had soiled her diaper. And when that child was taken to the hospital uh.. the uh.. attending physician or a physician on duty uh.. you know contacted the Department of Social Services uh.. and the child was eventually uh.. flown to uh.. Chapel Hill to the burn center and uh.. so we uh.. DSS went to court. The child was put into DSS custody and at that point I got appointed as her guardian ad litem. Uh.. fortunately in this case, well the child was hospitalized but after the child was released from the hospital she had a relative who uh.. is a loving caregiver, who has taken her and the little girl has made a complete recovery. Uh.. some of the issues I've had to deal with though are that uh.. the uhm.. uh.. mother of this child gave birth to another child uh.. shortly afterwards and that child was immediately taken into DSS custody. Uh.. it was fathered by a different uh.. man than the child that had suffered the burns and uh.. this father uh.. wants custody of the child. Uh.. an investigation of his background indicates that he is not a fit person to be a parent.

Zarbock: Do you do the investigation of the father?

Gloria Dzingeleski: I- I-- well I check some things. Like, for example, uh.. DSS believed that he had other children uh.. but they weren't sure of the number, so I went down to the Department of Child Support Enforcement and asked to see their records on him and discovered that he had fathered uh.. three children within a five month period by three different women and he had other children and uh.. his court record was uh.. very, very poor. And, in fact, as this case dragged, kind of dragged on, uh.. he has been incarcerated for non-child support payment uh.. but uh.. I was appointed, you know, the guardian for both of those children and uh.. I visit them uh.. once a month uh.. to make sure everything is fine and happily everything is really fine.

Zarbock: How long does this guardianship-- taking, for example, the child who was scalded. How long would your ad litem uh.. relationship be with this child?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, with this child because uh.. there are people willing to adopt both of these children, uh.. once they are cleared for adoption and the adoption becomes final I will be released as guardian. Now, I have another case where I have been on the case for four and a half years and this involves two teenagers and they originally came into custody because there was allegations of domestic violence in the family. Uh.. the case uh.. seemed to be going fairly well uh.. and uh.. the therapist had recommended that these girls be returned to their uh.. mother to their home uh.. when one of the girls uh.. told a school counselor something that made the counselor think that when she was going home for weekend visits that she was being sexually molested by the mother's boyfriend. Uh.. she reported that in the county where she lives. It was in Columbus County. And the uh.. when the investigators came to talk to her the young girl refused to talk to her. So, I went out to see her and I had gained her confidence over time and so she opened up to me and she just poured out for about 45 minutes the details of various acts. And uh.. by the time I got home from Columbus County uh.. because I don't take notes while they're talking to me, some of the details were getting a little confused in my mind and I hated to have to do this but I had to go back and ask her to repeat that. And this time I asked her to repeat in the presence of one of the counselors of the group home that she was in. And I filed a Child Protective Services incident report here in New Hanover County. Uh.. for reasons that are too involved to go into here, her older sister was already returned to the home. At that point uh.. DSS came in and removed the older sister from the home as well. And, uhm.. this is a case where unfortunately uh.. work towards reunification and resolving issues has not progressed well at all and the uh.. future for these girls is to remain in DSS custody. Uh.. one is in a group home and the other is in foster care uh.. until they are 18. And uh.. I am not sure exactly when I'll be released, if I will stay with this until they are 18, one is currently 16 and the other is 15, or whether it will be turned over to a volunteer who takes these kind of long term cases where there is no really, no work towards working towards reunifying the family but just following uh.. to advocate for the child. Because one of the things that I am concerned about uh.. with the 16-year-old particularly is that she be provided with the life skills she's going to need that she's going to know how to do-- know how to search for an apartment, know how to get a job, fill out a job application, get her driver's license, set up a bank account, all those things she will need to know because she will not have anybody but- she, fortunately she does have some relatives uh.. who may be able to give her some sort of guidance.

Zarbock: Were there legal criminal charges brought against the assaulted-- the assaultive-- the assaulted-- assaultive individual?

Gloria Dzingeleski: No, there weren't because uh.. they couldn't be substantiated.

Zarbock: Yeah.

Gloria Dzingeleski: It was the child's uh.. word against his.

Zarbock: Well I'm going to say something blazingly obvious and that is the emotional strain and the emotional cost of working with children like this is certainly a higher tally than uh.. helping somebody fill out their income tax form.

Gloria Dzingeleski: It is. It can also be extremely, you know, rewarding but particularly I feel like in this case uh.. this girl would have been returned to the home uh.. if- if she had not felt that she could confide in me and open up to me and, you know, get-- be protected. Uh.. there are times when I become so angry at what's happening to our children uh.. that when uh.. there are intransient parents who will not cooperate uh.. when uh.. and when I see what uh.. drugs are doing uh.. to families and to our children. Uh.. but I have had some cases that have ended happily, so there is, you know, is some balance. But it is, it's-- and I think one of the-- when I talked earlier about, you know, there is growth opportunities, one of the things uh.. I had lived I would say apparently a very sheltered life. I had a very happy childhood. I had a happy marriage. I have a stable family. I am proud of the way my sons turned out. Uh.. and I began having to interact with people whose uh.. values and lifestyle is so different from mine. And uh.. at first uh.. I was very nervous. It made me very uncomfortable. Uh.. but then when I began seeing that my recommendations to the court were being accepted by the court and that uh.. I seemed to be making the right decisions, I said, "Well, I guess I'm not doing too badly." But uh.. it is-- it's one of the most emotional. I have cried at times uh.. when some of the children tell me what happened to them. Uh.. it's- it's heartbreaking and we could use more guardians. I hope uh.. there are 69 children currently waiting to have a guardian ad litem appointed to them and that.

Zarbock: How connected do you become with the children whom you are helping? For example, do you have them over for Thanksgiving dinner or anything like that?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Uh.. no we're not allowed. I'm not allowed to provide any form of transportation and we're not allowed to do uh.. that. Uh.. I've had a-- I've had another case that has been very rewarding because uh.. it was a case of domestic abuse and it was a boy. I seem to relate much better with boys maybe because I've only had sons and I have, you know, three grandsons. But uh.. I have this little 7-year-old boy and uh.. he was in custody because of domestic violence. Uh.. and he was returned to the home because the mother had assured us that the uh.. abuser was no longer part of her life. And it turned out that he was and I had developed a very close relationship with the counselor at his school and she called me one day and said she had concerns because he was having problems in school. He was soiling himself and he was also falling asleep in class so deeply that they had trouble waking him. And she said it could have been something wrong. He could have an illness that could have been causing it but she says that's also signs of stress. And so she asked me to come and talk to him. And I went. She says because "You're the only person that he really trusts." And she said she was his counselor, she says, "But he doesn't trust me the way he trusts you." And I went out and I talked to him and my supervisor had told me something. She said, "Sometimes parents will threaten children with dire consequences if they tell and so they know something and they're afraid to tell." So I said to him, uh.. I won't use his real name. I said uh.. "Dicky," I said, "Did anybody tell you that if you say that something is going on that this man is back that they're going to take you away and they're going to put you in a mean foster home?" I says, "I have never lied to you." I said, "Have I when we talk?" And he said "No." And I said, "I'm going to tell you that if something is happening and you tell me we will probably have to take you out of the home but we're going to put you back with your grandmother and you know how much your grandmother loves you." And I said, "And, you will get to see your mother." And he just blurted out "She says she needs him. She says she needs him." And I says, "Are you telling me he's there?" And he says, "Yes, he comes at night." And so he was afraid to go to sleep at night and that's why he was falling asleep in class and that, so we worked with this woman and I'm happy to say now the man is really out of her life. We got her therapy to help her self esteem. We put all sorts of services, DSS did, put all sorts of services in place for the child and that family that mother and child are in so much better shape than they were when we came on the scene.

Zarbock: Well one of the curious things is uh.. having had some management experience in my life, one of the things that strikes me is you are a member of the system and yet you stand outside of the system.

Gloria Dzingeleski: That's- that's true. That's true.

Zarbock: You've got a foot on both sides of the wall.

Gloria Dzingeleski: That's right. Some people have said, "Well what's the difference between you and the uh.. Department of Social Services...

Zarbock: Right.

Gloria Dzingeleski: .. and a social worker?" And uh.. we've been told when I took training, "Well the difference is, is that the Department of Social Services has to look out for all involved people for the, you know the best interest of everyone and you only have to look out for the best interest of the child." I have to say I haven't found that to be the case because I've usually found if you help the family you help the child. And so you try to help the family. You try to-- your goal is always at first is reunification, you know, keeping the child out of the home is your last thing you- you-- unless you get forced to do it. And uh.. getting services for the uh.. parent, uh.. getting them therapy, uh.. if they are in a drug-- have a drug habit uh.. getting them into a drug uh.. rehabilitation program. Uh.. all of those things are going to benefit the child in the long run, so I feel that not only should I be advocating for the child, I should be advocating for the parent as well.

Zarbock: Have you ever had an experience with a child threatening or attempting suicide?

Gloria Dzingeleski: There has been this one child-- the one child, the young girl who said, you know, she had been molested uh.. was in a group home and she suffers from depression and she said to the uh.. they call them teaching parents in these cottages, said to the teaching parent, "I wish they could give me a pill so that I could sleep for days." And then one day she said, "I wish they could give me a pill so I'd never wake up." And so I called her uh.. therapist because the uh.. teaching parent called me and I called the therapist and told the therapist that and uh.. whether or not she really, you know, was thinking suicide or not but I certainly wasn't going to take a chance with a statement like that. Uh.. she has been put on-- she had been put on antidepressants; however, uh.. her mother uh.. talked her out of taking her medication. And maybe- maybe now maybe rightfully so since they're finding out that some of these medications that they're prescribing for children that have not been tested on children might, in fact, uh.. lead to increased suicides. Uh.. so this girl they're working with her mainly uh.. with therapy.

Zarbock: Ma'am you get up in the morning and you put on your duds and brush your teeth and put on your shoes and socks and uh.. leave the house and get to your duty station and you're met with some of the most heart-wrenching situations. What makes you get up in the morning, put on your duds, brush your teeth, put on your shoes and socks and come down to a horrible situation?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, uh.. one of the things is that I believe in the biblical admonition that to who much is given, much is required. And uh.. as I said, I had a very happy childhood. We were poor but it was very secure. Uh.. I knew that I was deeply loved by my parents and uh.. you know no matter what happened to me at school or anyplace else, I knew that when I came home my home was my haven. Uh.. the same thing in my marriage. I've been married 40 years and uh.. I have had an extremely happy marriage. I hope my husband is as happy in it as I am but I married a wonderful man and uh.. my home is my haven and I could always find peace there and uh.. I think that's-- so I said, you know, being as blessed as I am, and I sometimes thought to myself, would you-- these children are bearing that pain and that burden. Can't you share a little bit with them? And, you know, if- if I share a little bit, if it's going to make it a little bit easier, you know, for them and I hope it does. I hope it does.

Zarbock: This is the year 2006 and some of the events that are going on and, again, I'm saying that this tape will remain in a vault at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and as long as the planet earth is capable of manufacturing and developing electricity it will be there in a climate-controlled environment and available. So then, I'm really sort of preaching to the choir here just a tad. The year is 2006. We have troops in two different foreign countries that are fighting battles. Uh.. our gasoline prices are- are increasing significantly. Uh.. there are drugs in the-- an abundance of drugs in all sorts of form and fashion that, I agree, have ruined many, many people. Uhm.. if you have a computer you have access to a sewer of pornography. So these are some of the attributes that exist in our life right now in addition to the abundance that we all have, fresh fruits and vegetables in the store at any time of the day or night and access to health care highly-- and some of the most sophisticated technological equipment ever known. But I'm-- I'd like to ask you to make a comparison. You refer to your childhood and its stability. What were-- uh.. what year did you go into first grade? Let's pick that up as a--

Gloria Dzingeleski: Let me see, 1937 I was five, uh.. 1942.

Zarbock: Okay. Well that was--

Gloria Dzingeleski: During the war, yes.

Zarbock: Yeah, so what were the events that were going on in your--

Gloria Dzingeleski: I have-- I have some very uh.. scattered memories of what was going on during the war. I remember my mother saving meat drippings, fat in a coffee can and taking it to the butcher shop. Uh.. I remember my father did not drive a car. Gasoline was rationed and uh.. he-- in fact I don't believe at that time he owned a car. My parents were of the ilk that if you could not pay cash for something you didn't buy it. And so, uh.. my father either took public transportation or a friend would give him a- a ride to work. And one of the things I remember my father unfortunately was a very heavy smoker and they were saving aluminum during that time and cigarettes came wrapped in aluminum and we would have a day where my father would save all those aluminum wrappers and we would sit with a pan of water and we would peel the aluminum off and make it into a big ball. And I don't know where he took it for the war effort uh.. and that and- and I do remember uh.. the excitement when the war ended. Uh.. we lived in a uhm.. German uh.. Italian neighborhood at the time and uh.. even though, you know, we were fighting Germany these people were uh.. patriotic Americans. And someone had-- there was a tavern on the corner and they took the jukebox and they took it out of the tavern and they plugged it in, in the street, and all the neighbors were dancing in the street and it was a big party held in the street. And I remember all the church bells ringing. The church bells started ringing. We were having dinner and the church bells started ringing and my parents wondered why are all the church bells ringing. And they turned on the radio uh.. to say that peace had been declared.

Zarbock: How different times were then.

Gloria Dzingeleski: Yes, uh huh. I had gone to a school that was taught by an order of German nuns and up until the start of the war, half of the day's classes were taught in German. Well, when I started it was already 1942 and they were afraid to teach in German and so there was no German uh.. classes but uh.. nuns occasionally would slip into their German and we would-- I would pick up words here and there. And I can remember how she was partial to the girls and the girls were (inaudible) and the boys were (inaudible).

Zarbock: But despite the international dreadful things that were going on there was a sense of stability and predictability, wasn't there?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Right. And what troubles me about uh.. these conflicts and this war is back then everybody shared. Everybody suffered. Everybody contributed to the war effort. Here most of us are just untouched by it. If you don't, you know, have someone that's serving uh.. it's uh.. you just-- you're just going on with your life the way it's always been. You're just not affected by it at all and the burden is not even fairly distributed among the people. I think if it was maybe there would be more of a cry for uh.. you know getting out of these situations. I don't know what the solution is.

Zarbock: Let me draw a parallel using- using as a uh.. population of concern the children with whom you work uh.. aren't there an awful lot of people whom you know that couldn't care less about those children?

Gloria Dzingeleski: I don't-- I don't know. Uhm.. I- I guess I- I do get surprised sometimes. Uh.. I get surprised at parents who uh.. don't have their priorities right and put their own needs above the needs of their children. I would say that but I think uh.. uh.. I think as a society we talk about putting children first but we won't really do anything. We don't see that our teachers are paid enough. If we- we don't pay the people that care for our children uh.. decent wages, uh.. if our children are our greatest treasure why do we pay the people that have so much influence on our children so little? Why do we value them so little? Uhm.. I think that's-- I think that's uh.. in that sense I think people don't care about children.

Zarbock: And it strikes me again the obvious that you really work on two ends of the so-called bell curve. You're dealing with troubled children but the- the uh.. elderly population with whom you work as a-- helping them with their taxes probably have a rather good sized clump of grievances and heartaches themselves.

Gloria Dzingeleski: Oh, yes.

Zarbock: Loneliness probably one of them.

Gloria Dzingeleski: That's true and uh.. most of them, so many of them are struggling financially. They have so little to get by on and they're in ill health. Uh.. what is amazing to me too is the number of grandparents that are raising grandchildren. Uh.. uh.. and then we find so many people, you know, they talk about the sandwich generation where uh.. they are caring for uh.. elderly parents and sometimes their children return to the home as well. Uh.. there are really-- I often wonder when I'm doing taxes for some of these people how they manage, how they manage to get by, you know, and that's one of the things that makes it so rewarding. They are so grateful.

Zarbock: How do you manage to get by carrying the burdens, the social and emotional burdens that you carry for others? How do you get by?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, again, I think I get a lot of support from my husband. I wouldn't be doing as much as I do uh.. if it wasn't for my husband. Uh..

Zarbock: Who himself is a volunteer is that correct?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Yes, that's right. He's a volunteer. He volunteers uh.. with the VITA program and he is a volunteer at Good Shepherd Ministries second helpers program. Uh.. I assist him on that as well. And uh.. at one time when we were here he was a tutor at J.C. Rowe [ph?] School uh.. and he's involved. He- he is a golfer and uhm.. he got involved with uh.. a first tee program which is they take children that are at risk and they teach them golf. Uh.. but first of all they teach them good sportsmanship and manners and uh.. they have to take those kind of uh.. classes before they actually will let them out onto the golf course with a golf club in their hand. So he's been involved in that. But he is very supportive uh.. of what I do. He is a big help around the house. He does a lot of the housework and uh.. uh.. I had been doing volunteer work even when I was in Baltimore while I uh.. was still employed and uh.. I wouldn't have been able to do that if he hadn't shared so much, you know, of the household uh.. burden with me and that, so uh.. volunteerism is something I've done from about the time I've been 15. Uh.. it just uh.. is a-- is a way of paying back.

Zarbock: Paying back for what?

Gloria Dzingeleski: For all the blessings I have. My husband also says too well when people want to thank us he says, "Well don't pay back, pay forward. Help the next person. Help the next generation" uh.. you know, so that's what we try to do.

Zarbock: Well, uh.. your life is busy and full isn't it?

Gloria Dzingeleski: It is. We kind of joke because uh.. we keep a, you know, we keep a calendar with what we're doing every day and uh.. when we were working there wasn't anything-- not much on there because we knew every day we were going to work. We're coming home. We're taking care of our family. We're going grocery shopping. But now it's like every day there seems to be something written on the calendar and we- we kind of laugh. And my husband always laughs at the people who when we were going to retire said, "What are you going to do when you retire?" And I said, "You can't imagine all the things I've got planned to do when I retire."

Zarbock: I suspect if we could stretch the day into 26 hours you would still find things to do wouldn't you?

Gloria Dzingeleski: Oh, definitely. I say one of the things as an offshoot, you know, I said as there-- you know there are a lot of benefits that come to me from- from being a volunteer and one of the things that uh.. that uh.. has happened is when we do taxes my husband and I, excuse me. My husband and I do taxes for the Hispanic population. We did it for three years over at Amigos International. And then this year we did it at (inaudible) and that gave us an interest in taking Spanish lessons and so my husband and I have taken Spanish lessons. And I am still-- now I have set a goal for myself to spend at least an hour a day studying my Spanish. Uh.. I've gotten to the point where I can ask the questions that I need to ask to do a tax return and I can understand the answers uh.. but when it gets to maybe complicated situations I need the help of an interpreter. And my goal is to eventually uh.. be able to uh.. work without an interpreter. But what that does for me is it keeps my mind active. They say two of the best things that you can do uh.. to keep your mind active is to learn a new language and learn to play an instrument. So, seven, eight years ago I took up the piano and now I'm learning a new language, so I said it keeps you-- your mind active and doing taxes particularly if you do them manually.

Zarbock: How trusted or mistrusted are you by the Spanish-speaking population?

Gloria Dzingeleski: I think I'm very well-trusted because uh.. of the place where we're doing the taxes. They feel comfortable there. There is-- Cheryl Hoffman has suggested that maybe we should do taxes for them uh.. here but uh.. I have uh.. told her that I thought that they would not feel comfortable coming in here. They feel comfortable going into Amigos International or going into (inaudible). Next year though uh.. I have spoken with uh.. Monsignor uh.. Matt or Father Matt at St. Mark's Church, which is my parish and they have a Hispanic uh.. ministry there and he has been very receptive to the idea of us uh.. having a site there next year and do taxes for them there. And he has people that are bilingual that he can make available to serve as interpreters and that so we hope to expand to that site next year. And I'm- I'm looking forward to it because I always-- I'm always looking for an opportunity to have a chance to try to practice my Spanish and I-- I took Spanish when I was in school 49 years ago and, of course, never had an opportunity to learn it and I forgot most of what I had learned over those 49 years. But when I was in school, I was very embarrassed to get up and try to speak in Spanish. When I am helping these people I'm not the bit embarrassed because they are also struggling to learn English and they understand. And, if I make a mistake, they're very kind. They're very humorous about it, you know. Like one time uh.. instead of saying dollars uh.. the Spanish word for dollars is very close to the Spanish word for sorrow and so uh.. I said so many sorrows and they said, "No, no, dólares, dólares, not dólores!" And uhm.. you know they were very, very nice about it and I kind of laughed.

Zarbock: But, again as a volunteer you're getting a payback for being a volunteer (inaudible).

Gloria Dzingeleski: That's-- that's right.

Zarbock: An emotional payback or pay forward.

Gloria Dzingeleski: That's right. At one time when I was in Baltimore, well for six years I was with the adult basic education program. I tutored at the local high school uh.. and I uh.. tutored people who did not have the basic reading and math skills to get into the GED program. These are adults who wanted to get their high school degree but could not-- would not be able to manage in the GED classes. And uh.. I had uh.. two young men who had come from Cambodia and uh.. were in addition to trying to learn how to-- were trying to learn English and I said, "I would get so much pleasure out of when I was trying to explain to them some abstract concept like beauty or joy" and it's like how do you make them understand that? And you know and I would try about everything I could think of. And eventually you'd see the light go on. And I said, "They were excited. I was excited." I got so much pleasure out of saying "Gee" you know, we communicated. I got them to understand. They understand it and it just made me feel so happy.

Zarbock: Yeah.

Gloria Dzingeleski: So I said there's a lot of payback, a lot of payback.

Zarbock: Again, off camera I had indicated to you the University of North Carolina, Wilmington is certainly a-- it appears to be a very small payback on our part but I'd like to make sure that you know we will provide you copies of this interview for whatever you like. So, having said that, uh.. off camera and now on camera, I wonder if you'd take a look right into the camera and speak to the generations yet to come. When you look back on your life and you look at your present activities what would you like to tell people? What have you learned from all of this?

Gloria Dzingeleski: I would like to say that I think what I have learned is that the more you give the more you get back. And that uh.. reaching out to people uh.. is uhm.. one of the most uh.. fulfilling things uh.. that you can do uhm.. we're all in-- we're all in this together and uh.. I think we need to keep a very strong sense of community. Uh.. there at one time was this uh.. pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and this great call for individualism and I think we need to get back to the sense of uh.. community and that uh.. we are in fact our brother's keeper and we need to uh.. see that our brother is well cared for.

Zarbock: And I've got something to uh.. to make a comment. Do you-- a true story exists about Winston Churchill during World War II and Winston Churchill, you know, never, never, never passed up an opportunity to stand in front of the cameras.

Gloria Dzingeleski: No.

Zarbock: Or stand in front of an audience and be adored and admired. Well, it turns out that Winston Churchill found out that an 18-year-old New Zealand uh.. aircraft, I guess he was a gunner or a bomber, something or other, and he was 18 years of age from New Zealand, had enlisted in the Air Corps, New Zealand Air Corps when he was 17, had never been out of this little area, had never left New Zealand. Here he is plumped into England and dropping bombs on Germany and other places. Well coming back from a bombing raid their twin engine bomber was struck uh.. by antiaircraft fire and the engine started to burn. The young man, again true story, tied a rope around his waist, crawled out onto the wing with a fire extinguisher and extinguished the flames in the engine, climbed back into the aircraft and, of course, and the crew, then the aircraft landed safely in England. Well, this hit the papers of course. Well, Winston ordered, Winston Churchill ordered that the young man be brought to number 10 Downing Street and he, Winston, was going to pin a medal on this young man and, of course, there was going to be plenty of cameras. So this really naive young man was virtually dragged to 10 Downing Street and was just absolutely clearly in over his social head. So Winston Churchill looked at him and growled in this gravely voice, "Am I correct young man?" And assuming that you-- that in the presence of the power and authority that you feel very humbled and the young man managed to stumble through it, "Yes, sir." Then Winston Churchill said, "Then you know exactly how I feel standing in front of you." Ma'am, that's the way I feel. I'm humbled.

Gloria Dzingeleski: Well, thank you. You're embarrassing me.

Zarbock: Thank you very much.

Gloria Dzingeleski: You're welcome.

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