Retirement is next role for youth supporter

Her two boys were always her focus.

But Eric is 37 now and Scott is 39, so Vern (Friese) Loschi has turned that nurturing focus on numerous other kids in Andover. For the past 27 years, she has worked for the town in a variety of jobs that focus on making life more fun and interesting for kids. Budget cuts often meant she was bounced out of a job, but she always bounced back somewhere.

She's been a teacher's aide, a lunch lady, ran a career center at the high school, helped set up computers in the school department's central office, worked at the before- and after-school program called Kid's Club, once organized a Holly Ball at the high school for 300 kids and, for the past seven years, has been a go-to gal at the Department of Community Services.

"I'm just Ms. DCS to so many customers. They know it's me when they call Ext. 8274," said Loschi, who is retiring on Dec. 28. "Those callers are seeking information and they do know I can get them answers."

Loschi handles scheduling and sign-ups for all DCS programs. Those programs include a winter basketball league for 800 kids, the youth ski program at Bradford that attracts hundreds for six weeks every winter, and the day trips that many adults in town have enjoyed. Loschi keeps track of all those sign-ups and handles all those questions.

She's a self-described technology enthusiast, and has happily expanded the DCS database. Seven years ago, there was not much of a database. Now, there are 16,000 names. Loschi helped redesign the DCS program booklet that lists DCS offerings and is mailed every season to Andover residents. The book has evolved into a more easy-to-read listing with attractive front and back covers of scenes from around town.

Loschi turned 60 last March in style -- on a beach in Aruba with her husband, Dick Loschi, a retired town teacher and soccer coach. The woman who dresses up for DCS costume parties and sports bunny slippers and bunny ears for the annual egg hunt in town made it clear that her love of life and passion for fun is by no means over.

"It's a new life chapter that awaits," she said. "And I'm anxious to start it."

Travel plans include three booked trips -- so far -- and a new business. She said during her years at DCS she was surprised to hear from many people who were having trouble learning the ins and outs of their home computer. Now, she will teach people how to download photographs of their grandchildren and how to put together newsletters and whatever else they need.

"Many women want to learn more about their home computer, but they don't know how," she said. "I will go to their home and show them. I want to help them."

She could also launch a breakfast club for retired female teachers. Loschi said the retired male teachers gather on the second Tuesday of each month for breakfast. Loschi is eyeballing the third Wednesday for the women.

But, first, a question must be answered.

"Do I let the cleaning lady go?" Loschi asked.

Sounds like the answer is no.

Vern Loschi can be reached at www.loschi@verizon.net.

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