Elinor Griffith is a long time Chappaqua resident who dedicates much of her time to volunteer work, and has been doing so for many years. She offers a wealth of knowledge about local volunteer opportunities, much based on her own experiences. She has been involved in a wide variety of organizations and activities and has served as an inspiration to many to get involved, including me! She shared with me why she got involved and some of the unexpected benefits she gained as a result.
Elinor first got involved many years ago with Birchwood Swim and Tennis Club. As a busy full-time writer, editor and mother to two children, free time was scarce and reserved for family. So she volunteered alongside her children. This was a win-win–it demonstrated to her teenagers the message that giving back to the community is important while simultaneously allowing her to have quality family time. Subsequently, Elinor was asked to get involved with her church board. Initially, she balked–she was already running at full throttle among her professional and personal commitments. But she quickly came to realize that, as Elinor recently verbalized, “Now is a great time. Being busy is no excuse! Just get out and do something–even if it’s a small thing.” So she did.
Elinor joined her church board and found that giving back to her community was incredibly rewarding. She found an increased sense of belonging within the New Castle community. As a bonus, she discovered that she was not only fostering new friendships while volunteering her time, but that she was deepening existing ones through a shared love of giving back. Grace Bennett, long time friend of Elinor’s said, “I’ve always found Elinor to be so enthusiastic and dedicated to whatever project she is working on. She is also someone who embraces diversity and welcomes all with an open heart.” Joining the church board was just the tip of the iceberg for Elinor. She then became involved as a lay person in the Chappaqua Interfaith Council. The Interfaith Council coordinates and provides a variety of services to many people in the community.
Elinor was also on the board at Open Door for many years, and more recently, joined the board of New Castle Community Media Center. NCCMC is a non-profit organization whose main initiative is to help connect the community thru local media programming. Located in the library, they film all town hall meetings. These meetings, along with select other town meetings, are viewable on the web and local cable channels.
Elinor is a poster child for how rewarding giving back to the community can be. She modestly says that part of her love of New Castle stems from how engaged in giving back the people surrounding her are. To those who feel they may be too busy, Elinor shared with me an analogy told to her many years ago: Volunteering is like quilt. No one person has to be the entire quilt. An hour here and an hour there is like a square on the quilt. Your square joined with someone else’s square can quickly result in a completed quilt. Don’t feel that volunteering has to be an overwhelming commitment–it can be done one “square” at a time.
Of her many years of volunteering, Elinor says, “Pushing up your sleeves and helping neighbors in need can become one of the most satisfying areas of life. [It] gives an opportunity…to make our part of the world a little better.” –Heather Skolnick