Ginny Migrala has impacted the lives of hundreds of children through her dedication and hard work at the children’s home.
She retired in December 2020 after 42 years of service, most recently serving as director for 13 years. During her time at the children’s home, Ginny also served as a house parent, coordinator of family services, social worker and assistant director.
“I moved my way up the ranks,” Ginny said. “I even lifeguarded for a summer at a pool on campus that our kids used.”
“It has been a very fulfilling 42 years,” she added. “It’s not like in education, where you work with kids for one year, and then they move on to the next classroom. Many of our kids stay with us until they graduate from high school. We want them to stay and take advantage of the opportunities. The kids come back to visit. They invite us to their weddings. They bring their own children to see us.”
Since 1913, dedicated staff like Ginny have created a home for and changed the lives of more than 2,000 children in need.
Ginny has always enjoyed working with children. She earned her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in social work. An avid Penn State fan, Ginny’s office was decorated in blue and white. She is also a member of the Grey Lions, a Penn State alumni interest group formed by residents of Masonic Village, which will allow her to continue visiting the campus.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, Ginny found the opportunity to become a house parent at the children’s home and never looked back. Masonic Village paid for her to complete her master’s degree while she was working.
Ginny’s late husband, Jerry, was also a long-term employee of the children’s home, serving as a house parent and then as assistant director before he passed away.
“We were both with the children’s home the entire time,” Ginny said. “We never worked at any other department on [the Masonic Village] campus.”
As a house parent, Ginny was responsible for getting the children ready for school, taking them shopping and helping with their homework, among other responsibilities. As coordinator of family services, she worked with families and coordinated visits.
As director, Ginny represented the children’s home on several boards, including Communities That Care (in Elizabethtown), the Masonic Community and Service Association and the Children’s Home Alumni Association.
“One of my goals was to ensure alumni came back to visit during the year,” she said. “They always had such a good time. They were like brothers and sisters who grew up together. The house parents are like their parents or grandparents.”
Children, alumni and fellow staff members of the children’s home speak fondly of the programs Ginny organized over the years, including annual alumni picnics and opportunities for the kids to volunteer at Masonic Village and within the Elizabethtown community. They also appreciated the trips to Disney World and the Jersey shore.
“For many, it was their first time seeing the beach,” Ginny said. “You get to enjoy their first experiences and discover neat things. It’s a lot of fun.”
One of Ginny’s most memorable experiences was when the children’s home got a “makeover” a few years ago. The residential cottages received new furniture and updated kitchens and bathrooms. Most importantly, each child now has their own bedroom. The Resource Center now has updated study rooms and a recreation area for parties and meetings. The renovations were sponsored by many generous donors, from those who are generally passionate about helping children to donors who are alumni themselves.
Like Ginny, staff members tend to stay at the children’s home for long periods of time.
“It’s really like having an extended family,” she said. “You’re treated well. You enjoy the opportunity to watch the kids long-term and see how they’re doing. Some of them were the first in their family to graduate from high school or college. It’s a big deal to them.”
Ginny will miss the day-to-day hustle and bustle of life with 40 kids, but, nonetheless, she is excited for what lies ahead.
“I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve got a lot of time to start projects,” she said. “Eventually, it will be nice to take trips. A couple of friends I’ve known since junior high school … We take trips every few years. We have a lot of fun together.”
However, she will always look back fondly on her time at the children’s home and keep those memories with her forever.
“Some of my best memories are when I had an opportunity to bond with the kids by spending more time with them. We had good conversations riding in the car taking them to an appointment or to the shore. I always enjoyed that. Those opportunities to talk to the kids and see where they’re at … that’s something I will miss.”