It’s fitting that Ellen Flynn, a poet and retired librarian, finds inspiration in Mattapoisett by watching the sea and walking the wooded trails, because she is a force of nature.
Taken together, Flynn’s contributions are humbling to behold: Between her time in Mattapoisett during the Seventies and since her return in the early 2000s, she has impacted thousands with her service. For her tireless work in the Tri-Town and beyond, Flynn is The Wanderer’s recipient of the 2013 Mattapoisett Keel Award.
“My motivation comes from the fond feeling I have for Mattapoisett and its lifestyle,” Flynn said. “There are so many different opportunities for people to take advantage of such a marvelous community.”
Mattapoisett is indeed marvelous – or, if you go by the bumper sticker on the back of Flynn’s car, “Mattapoisett … is Special!” – and it’s due in large part to her volunteering. Flynn has served as President and Vice President of the Woman’s Club, including stints as Chair of both the Great Decisions Foreign Policy Discussion group and Scholarship Committee sponsored by the Club.
A passionate Ikebana floral artist, Flynn has also chaired the Garden Tour and is a member of the Garden Group. She serves as Director of the Land Trust, while chairing the Education and Scholarship committees, and has chaperoned the Center School’s third-grade trip to the Buzzards Bay Coalition for the past three years.
“It’s a great opportunity to work in the educational aspect of the Land Trust, so I jumped immediately into what I could do for children,” Flynn said. “A driving concern of mine is maintaining what makes Mattapoisett charming and wonderful for people who haven’t yet fully discovered it. And I love witnessing the children’s experience, watching them learn what’s going on outside of their own community.”
But make no mistake, this community is first in Flynn’s heart. The former Vassar College librarian who “will always love walking through a library” is Vice President of the Friends of the Mattapoisett Library, a member of its Writers’ Group, and a director at its Summer Reading Program’s Outdoor Theater. She is also a Life Member of the Historical Society, where she created a children’s herb and wildflower garden at the museum. For good measure, she also presents a Monarch Butterfly Program at the Sippican Health Care Center.
The list of accomplishments goes on and on. She is unstoppable. In fact, it seems that the only thing Flynn isn’t capable of is talking about herself. Luckily, her daughter Cobey is visiting during our interview.
“I was out here for Mother’s Day, and she had four things she was doing, plus preparing for the Land Trust’s annual board meeting,” Cobey said. “She’ll do these events and then will clean up the kitchen and bring the food to those who might need it. She’s amazing. She’s so positive every time I talk to her.”
I suggested that Flynn – who some jokingly refer to as the “Mayor of Mattapoisett” – run for office, and that Cobey serve as her campaign manager.
“My mom is known for taking it to the next level,” she said. “You might volunteer, but she’ll be like, ‘You know what else we could do? We could do this, this, and this to make it better.’ And everybody will say, ‘Oh, Ellen, that would be great!’”
Flynn shook her head.
“I never think about the things I do,” she said. “I just do it because I love it, and I want to do it.”
“She’s never looking for credit,” Cobey agreed. “She does it because it’s the right thing to do. Watching that while growing up has meant so much to me.”
It means a lot to Mattapoisett, too.
by Shawn Badgley