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Everyday Hero: Volunteer ready to serve students during school time

NATCHEZ — On the days Julie Sanguinetti helps out in the front office of Cathedral Elementary School, the volunteer wears a lot of hats.

“I pretty much do whatever they need me to do,” Sanguinetti said, laughing. “You could be answering the phone one minute and helping take care of ‘boo-boos’ the next.”

From nurse to office manager, Sanguinetti uses the time to give back to a school she said welcomed her and her children with open arms.

The New Orleans native moved to Natchez nearly eight years ago and enrolled her two children, Frederik and Kirsten, into the Catholic school.

Sanguinetti began volunteering her time in the school’s front office shortly after enrolling her children and continued giving her time whenever asked.

“Back then, I would also help the teachers out with a little bit of everything,” she said. “I would stuff their folders for the week ahead with all their graded papers, staple all the worksheets or just make copies.”

Sanguinetti’s hours at the school were dialed back slightly after she was offered a job elsewhere, but the halls and main office of the school never stayed too far from her mind.

“Things got a bit too stressful, so I decided to come back and volunteer,” she said. “I know it sounds cliché, but I really do want to give back anyway I can.”

No one appreciates the hours Sanguinetti puts in as much as Cara Serio, who is the elementary school’s secretary.

“She’ll come in certain days of the week, but really anytime I need her,” Serio said. “It’s always great having her here.”

Sanguinetti said it’s never easy to fill the big shoes Serio leaves every time the volunteer steps behind the desk.

“Cara does so much that you really never know what you’re going to be doing,” Sanguinetti said. “You pretty much have to do a little bit of everything.”

One of Sanguinetti’s more enjoyable volunteer roles is that of school nurse, when she delivers bags of “magic ice” for students who have been hurt.

“All the students call it ‘magic ice’ because it fixes everything,” Sanguinetti said. “You have to wear a lot of hats up there.”

While Sanguinetti’s children — who are now in ninth and sixth grade — attend class in a separate building, she said volunteering at the school also gives her a chance to connect with them throughout the day.

“I try not to interrupt them in the classroom or anything, but it has been great to be able to see them and all the other students grow up over the years,” Sanguinetti said. “Everybody takes care of everybody up there, and I just want to do whatever I can to keep that going.”