Ellen Mattingly loved books all her life. For years, she has shared this passion with children. Now she is being rewarded for it.
CLEVELAND – So many of our great charities would not exist without dedicated volunteers; in particular, seniors, who generously give of their time and life experience to help nonprofits reach their full potential.
This year, the Mutuelle Médicale honors these “exceptional” seniors. One of them is Ellen Mattingly.
As a girl on her grandparents’ farm in Kentucky, you would likely find Ellen lost in a world of words.
“There was a beautiful, huge tree, ‘the climbing tree,’ as we called it. And I would climb my books up in the tree and read,” Ellen told us. “I think what books do and what they certainly have done for me is they teach you that your life is more than what you see around you.”
This kind of openness guided Ellen towards her calling to help others.
“My original goal in life was to be an elementary school teacher. And I found the HR to be pretty much the same. Just the kids were bigger,” Ellen said.
After a successful career in HR, Ellen is not done giving back. But she didn’t have to go far: she found inspiration right here at home.
“I’ve never, ever seen a place that had such a commitment to caring for others like Cleveland does,” Ellen said.
A city that opened a children’s book bank just five years ago. The rest, they say, wrote itself.
“I heard about the book bank; I had met one of the founders at a social event. I volunteered a few times and felt really called to the mission because the books were such an important part of my growing up,” Ellen said.
The staff immediately recognized his dedication and passion.
“She really cares about everyone. She really cares about us, the staff and, of course, the other volunteers,” said Colleen Watt, director of operations for the Children’s Book Bank.
“When they asked me to participate, to participate very strongly, to be on the board and to help them hire people and everything, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s great… No, I can’t do that! Ellen laughed. “And then when I sat down and talked to them, it’s a concept that you just can’t say no to.”
This is because the book bank distributes 30,000 books per month to children in need.
“Without the ability to read and connect and be empathetic and understand stories and understand people, everything you get from books, I think kids grow up lost,” Ellen said.
As a senior volunteer, Ellen feels that she and her colleagues bring something special to the table.
“Each of us not only has our life experience to call upon, but we have greater flexibility and understanding,” Ellen said. “The joy of understanding what these books mean to children…it’s so amazing to understand that. It gives me goosebumps now to think about it. So, I think older people have a lot to give.”
If you know an outstanding volunteer in our community, you can nominate them for this prestigious award.
Registrations are open until June 17. Click on HERE nominate someone.
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