story & photo
by Maren Schober
Elizabeth Martinelli, 79, Mystic, is a remarkable woman. In addition to being a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, Liz, as she is fondly called, is a tireless volunteer worker in the Mystic area in more ways than you can count. She perfectly exemplifies the Rotary motto: Service Above Self.
On July 19th, Liz was honored by the Rotary Club of Stonington and presented the Nancy Z. Young/Paul Harris Fellow Award for Outstanding Community Service.
During the presentation, Sue Ferraro, Branch Manager, Liberty Bank, Mystic, states, “Mrs. Martinelli is a true hero in our community. When you ask yourself what does service above self mean, just say Elizabeth Martinelli’s name and you will have your answer. She is a hero to all who know her. You could not have selected a more deserving person for this award. She is an expert at giving people her heart when they need it most.”
Sitting with Liz in her comfortable home, I look at a long list of community service projects in which she dedicates her time and energy. “In which of these service projects are you currently a volunteer?” I ask Liz.
“All of them,” she answers matter of factly without missing a beat.
“All of them?!”
“Yes, all of them. I do them all.”
These are just some of the volunteer activities Liz does regularly. She is the poppy chairman for VFW Auxilliary and American Legion, she collects personal care items for hospitalized and overseas veterans, volunteers at Red Cross blood drives (more than 25 years!), collects eye glasses for the Mystic Lions Club, works at voting polls for every town and national election, is a member of the Democratic Town Committee, a member of Daughters of Isabella, active member of St. Patrick’s Church, Eucharistic Minister to the sick at Apple Rehab Center (Mary Elizabeth Nursing Home), and volunteers for Knights of Columbus, Mystic Art Festival and Taste of CT.
“For 16 years I ran the Mystic used medical equipment program with my husband,” Liz tells me. “ We would clean and repair all kinds of used medical equipment and store them in our garage. We gave these walkers, commodes, etc, to anyone who needed them.”
“What got you started in community service projects?” I ask.
“I was inspired by my dad, Pete Connors. He was the most unselfish and giving person I have ever known. He’d do anything for anyone at any time of the day or night, always with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. I remember his two favorite quotes. He’d say, ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive,’ and ‘the least you do for my children, you do for me.’ I try to live my daily life by his words.”
“Community service enriches my life in more ways than one can imagine,” Liz continues.
“I suggest to anyone who has time to try community service. You may like and enjoy it and it will definitely change your life.”