Fran Curl is a natural giver and encourager. The Dickson native came home after spending 27 years teaching in Winter Springs, Fla., near Orlando.
“I taught school for years in Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia,” she said. “I’ve talked student from kindergarten to high school.”
She said that high school is her favorite.
“You can talk to them about real life,” she said.
She also served as cheerleading coach for eight years and was a golf coach in Florida for 14 years, where her team won a state championship and was second in the state in two other seasons.
“Teaching is so rewarding when you see seeing students meet goals,” she said. “You don’t get rich, but the reward is well worth it.”
When asked her age, she paused and broke into a huge smile.
“I am a senior citizen,” she said.
She was drawn to the Dickson Senior Center after having knee replacement surgery.
“I had to have total knee replacement,” she said. “My surgeon told me that I needed to be riding a bike. I thought I’ll go out and buy one. But then I decided that I’ll just go down to the senior citizens center and see if they have one, and they do. So, three days a week I ride the bike, and on two of those days I do the exercise class.”
Curl also attends church twice a week.
She has a regular routine at the senior center, riding an exercise bike for 30-40 minutes three days a week, and she works out in the exercise class for two of the three days. Curl said she loves the exercise class because participants work at their own pace, and she loves the social aspect of the facility.
“Interaction is critical and wonderful for everyone,” she said. “If you stay home, it’s so easy to get depressed. So, I like to get out and be around people to inspire and be inspired by. And when I ride my bike, I like to read.”
In addition to her time at the senior center, Curl spends two days a week working at the information desk as a volunteer at Tri Star Horizon Medical Center on Highway 70 in Dickson.
“I tell people where to go,” said with a laugh.
“If I can make and inspire or encourage in some way, I’ve done my job,” she said. “I point out the doctor’s office or the way to a patient’s room. I’ll even take them to the room they’re looking for and push in a wheelchair. When a patient is dismissed, I’ll roll them out, help them get into car. Each day I have the same goal: to do something nice for someone to brighten someone’s day. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a smile or a hello. We all have problems.”
She said she has been a volunteer at the hospital for two and a half years, and she has brought six volunteers from the hospital to be a part of the senior center.
“I get my call for giving from my mother,” she said. “We were raised on a farm, and when people visited mom she always gave them something to take with them — a jar of jam or pickles, a piece of cake — she always sent them home with something, and so I want to give back.”
She has some advice to share for potential volunteers who may not think they have much to offer.
“There is always something somebody can give,” she said. “You may not want to greet, but you can do filing, deliver newspapers, or just be willing to give someone your time. The takeaway for me each day is that just maybe today I helped someone.”
Curl has one son, Jim, 60. He lives in Charlotte, N.C. and is a senior vice president for Coca Cola. She also has two grandsons.
Senior Center director Joan Rial said she is impressed by Curl’s positive energy.
“She is such a great example of what you should do after surgery,” Rial said. “If you don’t rehab or keep it up, you’ll be back at square one.”
Curl sums up her experience at the center and her role as a volunteer simply.
“I’m happy to be here and then tell others how great it is here,” she said.