Knights with Shining stop signs

From street crossing to the spotlight, these three crossing guards talked to City Life Magazine about life behind the stop sign.

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to have crossing guards in your life, chances are you remember them. They can be recognized by their infectious smiles and sweet “good morning”s, and they might just be the only people in your life that care about your safety more than your parents.

If you or your children have had crossing guards like Paulina Raso, Kaniz Verse or Serguei Tikhonenkov, you’re definitely thankful for them. These three are the powerhouses of crossing guards. Their jobs are everything to them.

For Paulina Raso, 57, a passion for working with children and an ad in a newspaper were what brought her to this profession. She says the kids are what keep her coming back. “I enjoy working with kids. You know why? You watch them grow. You put smiles on their faces. When they don’t see me there, they wonder where I am,” she says with a beaming face. From Monday to Friday, you can find Raso helping students of St. Angela Merici Catholic Elementary School get from one street to the next.

I enjoy working with kids. You know why? You watch them grow. You put smiles on their faces. When they don’t see me there, they wonder where I am

– Paulina Raso

Raso, who has almost never missed a day of work, says the response she gets from kids on a daily basis is overwhelming. “It makes me very happy. It makes me still want to do the job and continue doing it. I told Natasha, my supervisor, that as long as I have good health, I’m going to continue doing this until I’m 100.”

Kaniz Verse, 68, echoes Raso’s thoughts — she absolutely loves meeting new people while crossing them. “I like it. You know, you’re doing something nice,” she says. “I think it’s good, this job, looking after kids.”

Verse, who began her foray into crossing a year ago, emphasizes that her job is essential for the safety of her community. “I think safety is important. Some people will be driving and they don’t stop,” she says, adding that having a crossing guard around helps people realize that they could hurt someone when not obeying laws.

Serguei Tikhonenkov, 65, says that he loves all aspects of this job, especially that it allows him to be close to his family. “I am able to do a lot of things [with my job]. I can take care of my daughter and my granddaughter … For me, it is also very interesting to meet new people. My main goal is to keep kids safe to and from school,” he says.

Tikhonenkov, who has held his station near St. Stephen Catholic Elementary School for the last four years, adds that safety is extremely important and keeping his community safe should never be a question. Much like Raso and Verse, he holds the same view. “It is my duty, my job every day,” he says.

vaughan.ca

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARLOS ARTURO PINTO

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