The 2019 Service Above Self Award was presented to Plainfield resident and former owner of the Plainfield Music Store Victoria "Vicky" Griswold at the club's annual Wine Tasting Dinner on May 1 at Giovanna's Restaurant.
The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the 2019 Service Above Self Award to Vicky Griswold, a well known and highly respected musician with a long history in the arts, not only in Plainfield and the surrounding area. Her musicianship is highly regarded and respected, not only throughout the New York metropolitan area, but also internationally in Europe and Brazil. Vicky has recorded with prestigious symphony orchestras such as the Warsaw Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Guests enjoyed a five course meal expertly prepared by the chef and staff at Giovanna’s Restaurant, the premier restaurant in Plainfield. Each course was accompanied by a tasting of fine wine especially selected for that course.
Ms. Griswold has been a member of the Rotary Club of the Plainfields since 1999, and served as president of the club from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, a two-year term. She was instrumental in the success of the club's scholarship program as a tireless advocate for the graduating students at Plainfield High School, in particular.
"We chose our friend Vicky to receive the Service Above Self Award because she is the embodiment of our Rotary motto, "Service Above Self," said club president Roberta Smith. "Your spirit of volunteerism is manifested in the many ways that you have served the people in our area in both club and community activities.
"Your knowledge of Plainfield and its groups and organizations has been an invaluable asset to the club. Your participation and/or membership in many area arts organizations is second to none. You are a thoughtful, considerate, well-read woman deserving of recognition.
"We also will present this award in recognition of your service and accomplishments as a musician par excellence. Your dedication to music drove your decision to take ownership of the Plainfield Music Store and save it for music lovers everywhere. Under your ownership, the business expanded its reach with on-line sales and served as a resource for even more musicians throughout the world. You supported this business as a labor of love for music lovers everywhere.
"As we say in our induction of new members, your fellow Rotarians see you as a leader in your field, a person who has many, many times over manifested the qualities of head and heart to interpret, demonstrate, live and impart the message of Rotary as reflected in our motto, “Service Above Self.” These are characteristics of a true leader, and you embody them with distinction."
Ms. Griswold accepted her award with humility. She began her acceptance by introducing her fellow Rotarians who made the event possible, her family and friends from her many groups and associations that she developed over the years. She spoke of the history of service to others that began with her maternal grandparents, active in community affairs, particularly the establishment of the Unitarian Church in Plainfield. Her mother took a quieter role in a number of organizations, eschewing leadership positions for the more pleasing to her role of a worker. Her father took on leadership roles in a number of local groups and agencies while serving as a local physician.
Vicky then spoke of her time as a member of the Rotary Club of the Plainfields, where she has been a member for twenty years. She recalled not knowing what to expect with membership, but quickly developing long-lasting friendships with like-minded people interested in service to others. "Our motto is ‘Service Above Self’, “ said Ms. Griwsold. “All Rotary Clubs engage in various service projects, which benefit not only their local community, but also the world.” She went on to list some of the club’s projects, including scholarships, dictionaries for third graders, a youth track and field meet, working with the Interact Club at North Plainfield High School, and a number of others.
"Internationally, Rotary has pledged to eradicate polio worldwide, and to that end, we collect money in our little blue plastic Polio Piggies,” continued Ms. Griswold. “In the last 30+ years, we have collectively raised enough money to send medical teams to vaccinate children against polio all over the world, and today, new cases of polio have been found in only 2 countries! We are “this close” to achieving a seemingly impossible goal. Our club also sends financial support to a medical facility in the Amazon, a housing project in Ecuador, and to help support two young brothers in Ecuador with devastating skin conditions."
Ms. Griswold went on to speak of the camaraderie that she shares with her fellow Rotarians. "So it is not just the good that we do, in relatively small increments, that has kept me in the club all these years. It is also the fact that we are a diverse group of people who enjoy each other's company over a good meal every week. Our tradition of "Happy Dollars" is a way of not just contributing money to the club, but a way of celebrating the important milestones in our lives, and the things that make us happy, like this beautiful spring weather."
She concluded with an invitation to all non-Rotarians present at the dinner. "So if you have been wondering how you can contribute to your community, I urge you to join our merry band!"
For more information about the Rotary Club of the Plainfields, visit their website at www.RotaryPNP.org. The club meets every Wednesday at 12:15 PM at Giovanna’s Restaurant, 1462 South Avenue in Plainfield, except for Social Hours at The Coffee Box at 8:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. Anyone interested in learning more about Rotary and the club is invited to attend a meeting as a guest of the Club.