The Giving Grandma
Growing up in Boston in the 1940s, Sylvia Glaser ‘83 learned to make do and work hard. “Times were different then,” she says. “You took a bath once a week, got new shoes once a year, and … I had my tonsils out on the kitchen table if you can believe that. … And we never thought we were poor.”
Glaser, a Montgomery College alumna and retired nurse, established the ESM Glaser Nursing Scholarship for students at MC earlier this year. It is her second scholarship for nursing students, but this one is named for her grandchildren: Elise, Stephanie, and Matthew. She will make contributions to it on each grandchild’s birthday—in lieu of other presents.
“My grandchildren have more than they need—if not everything they want,” Glaser says. “They’re all very good kids, but I see how hard people in the world are struggling right now and I want to give back.”
Originally a teacher, Glaser changed careers after volunteering to help care for a member of her synagogue who was dying of cancer. As a nurse, she worked 23 years at the Jewish Social Services Agency in Rockville, Maryland, caring for hospice patients at their homes or in nursing homes.
“I met the most amazing people, especially the family members,” Glaser says. During her visits, she made a point to keep the clinical aspect minimized. “I decided that I wasn’t going to go in and ask them: what’s your pain level from 1 to 10? or what did you eat today? They didn’t need that kind of interaction to be part of their final days.”
Glaser says her family is very appreciative of what she is doing with the named scholarship. “They understand what I am trying to do. The girls are in college and they know how expensive it is. By helping someone else go to college, we are giving back as a family. I hope others might be inspired to do something similar,” she says. “But either way, it’s my checkbook, my choice.”