“I wish I was doing more,” says Ellen Wood—and a surprising number of volunteers we interview say this same thing. Spoken recently, like a true believer in the spirit of giving, Ellen Wood is an 85-year-old author, columnist, and now artist, who has been giving back to the community since moving to El Rito 20 years ago.
Ellen lived in Hunterdon County, New Jersey before moving here, where she gave of herself through many organizations and left lasting goodness behind her. With Ellen’s executive background in marketing, advertising, and banking, she brings alot to the table—many types of tables. The North Central Food Pantry is a cause very close to her heart. She started there as a volunteer many years ago, back when it was known as Love Your Neighbor. The Food Pantry family is very dear to her. At the onset of the pandemic, her adult children asked her not to volunteer; they were concerned about her health. Ellen misses helping out at the Food Pantry but plans to resume volunteering when the pandemic is over.
Anyone who knows Ellen catches on immediately that she is funny and appreciates humor; working with her is a lot of fun. When the Food Pantry was selling water at an event, Ellen also had the brilliant idea of selling hugs. Food Pantry co-founders Kate Cisneros and Jeannie Masters sold more hugs than water!
For 12 years, Ellen has been writing her positivity column for The Taos News. When she heard that Questa was starting their very own newspaper, she stepped up and volunteered to offer her LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH column every month, which is a popular Health & Wellness feature.
When the Questa Del Rio News celebrated its first anniversary, we wanted to go big. Our overworked staff was flailing about; it became apparent that party planning was not in our skill set. Ellen stepped in and made it happen—Ellen loves a good party! She suggested we celebrate on Valentine’s Day. We had the celebration at Rael’s Store & Coffee Shop and before we knew it, Ellen had a magnificent crew of party planners; Peggy Trigg did the decorations, and Evelyn and Gary Coggins were super-heros in lining up the delicious food, much of which they prepared themselves. And of course, we couldn’t have done it without Cynthia Rael-Vigil. The rest of us just had to show up and have fun. It was a smashing success!
Ellen has done lots of fundraising in her career. To raise half a million dollars to rebuild the Hunterdon County Museum, one of her ideas was to start a yacht club (a spoof, as they were in a land-locked county) and she even sold a membership to a horse. We asked Ellen to help us with our December “Fun-Raiser,” which is going on right now through the month of December. If anyone wants to buy a gift subscription for their horse, let us know! With our matching funds from the New Mexico Local News Fund and Kit Carson Electric Co-op, your $60 subscription fee will land us a total of $180. We thank you, and Ellen thanks you in advance for participating.
She also is providing notecards with her original artwork to send to you as a thank-you (along with your receipt for making this tax-deductible donation). When you get one of those personalized thank-you notes, chances are Ellen would be one of the grateful volunteers who wrote the message, stuffed the envelope, or stuck the stamps. We are so grateful for her support that we asked her to pen this month’s Guest Editorial.
Ellen has served on many boards and committees over the years of her career, breaking many a glass ceiling, being the first woman in various positions and winning numerous awards and recognition. She has organized countless events, including the New Mexico Department of Aging Conference. Because of her work with reversing the early symptoms of the Alzheimer’s gene (APO-e4), Ellen has gained a following for her books and speaking engagements on the youthing movement. For more information, see www.howtogrowyounger.com.
Ellen is on the board of the Questa Creative Council and the Questa Studio Arts Tour Committee. She was a board member and president of Localogy, another 501(c)3 which serves as a fiscal agent for worthy groups who themselves do not have tax-exempt nonprofit status. Locals who operate under the Localogy umbrella include LEAP, Casa Cultura (developed with Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez), The Questa Farmers Market, and others. For more information, visit www.localogy.org.
A recent gift to the brain trust at The Questa News, thanks to Ellen, is formalizing the process of establishing an editorial advisory board—stay tuned!
Finally, Ellen started a new endeavor about a year ago: painting, and gave herself a new name: Maruška, her father’s middle name. She has already shown her work and has a line of prints and notecards. Besides volunteering and painting, Ellen is busy running a vacation rental and creating ads for NorthStar Tire & Auto.
Ellen is overjoyed to be part of a big, loving, kindhearted family and we are overjoyed that she is in our community.