Heart to heart

Grandma and Granddaughter share their sense of care

Margitta (Kitty) Rizzo and her granddaughter, Maddy Popp, share a certain kind of heart: a caring one.

This time, it’s Popp who is in the spotlight.

Rizzo is most proud of how Popp “gives back to the community.”

This past year, Popp worked with AmeriCorps’ City Year program. City Year, Popp explained, “is a program that is in high-poverty communities, bridging the gap in student support that schools do not have the resources.”

Margitta (Kitty) Rizzo stands before her family gallery wall in her home. (Photo provided)

Margitta (Kitty) Rizzo stands before her family gallery wall in her home. (Photo provided)

Popp took a Tulsa, Oklahoma student, who was failing, under her wings. This student had given up; he skipped school, became despondent, and felt hopeless. Pop persisted, overcoming obstacles, and creating a miracle – the student reversed his trajectory and passed 8 courses; this was enough credit to graduate. Pop’s intervention helped the student regain his confidence and stand proudly as he accepted his diploma to a round of applause from the audience that included the team from City Year.

Rizzo is also proud of her granddaughter’s other accomplishments. Popp graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics from the University of Michigan. After graduation, she accepted an opportunity with AmeriCorps. The experience with City Year has led Popp to change her focus of study.

“I want to make a difference,” Popp said.

She is continuing with America Corp; participating in an Urban Teaching program that is in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins School of Education. The program’s goal is to develop teachers that improve the academic performance of students in high-need schools.

Popp has just begun the four-year journey that will lead her to her Masters in Secondary Education with a focus on Urban students.

“In the morning, I teach in an urban Dallas, Texas school.” Popp explained the rigorous clinical training model “and in the afternoon, I concentrate on my coursework.”

Oma, (as Popp refers to her grandma Rizzo) brags “Maddy was always part of the geek crowd. She graduated 4th in her class at Crystal Lake Central High School.” Popp was also a National Merit Scholar Student.

“Maddy even teaches me,” Rizzo said, adding that they stay in touch more than ever. “She taught me how to send texts.”

Margitta Rizzo and her granddaughter Maddy Popp. (Photo provided)

Margitta Rizzo and her granddaughter Maddy Popp. (Photo provided)

Rizzo’s pride and devotion to her entire family is clear, as evidenced by all the framed photos in her home. She also has photos of the pets she cares for. “I love animals,” she said.

You might see Rizzo walking the dogs she cares for while others are away or taking care of a home for some of the snowbirds.

You also might see her shoveling snow in her Fur coat not only on her property but that of her neighbors.

Perhaps this is where Popp gets her large heart.

Rizzo laughed, “My neighbors sometimes joke and say there is that Rich Lady, shoveling the sidewalk. I tell them it keeps me warm.”

1 Comment

  1. Wonderful story!