Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Ann Griffiths spends her days at the Little House in Menlo Park helping with the lunch service.
Ann Griffiths said she’s lucky she doesn’t wear mascara because she cried when she learned she would be the recipient of the Jefferson Award. The award is known for being the United States’ Pulitzer Prize of community service.
The nearly 79-year-old Griffiths has been a member of the Peninsula Volunteers since 1963 and previously served as president of the group. The mother of four daughters and grandmother of seven also maintains her job as a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker. She lives in Palo Alto.
Peninsula Volunteers’ Mary Young nominated Griffiths and said it was a no-brainer to select her given the 50 years Griffiths had given in support of the organization.
“I didn’t even know I was nominated,” Griffiths admitted. “I was absolutely floored and humbled. I want more of the community to know what we do here. We need to make money because this is a very expensive place to run.”
Peninsula Volunteers provides more than $5 million in services, including 130,000 hot meals to seniors and the homebound through their Meals on Wheels program.
KPIX sponsored the honor, which acknowledges her service to the community. The television station came by the organization’s Little House center in Menlo Park July 9 to film and interview her on her philanthropic life. The station aired footage of an interview it conducted with Griffiths.
“I always was concerned about the aging process because the women in my family lived a long time,” Griffiths said. “It was also a way to get out of the diaper pail. There’s been more of a need in the community over the years [for our programming] since more people are living longer.”
One of Griffiths’ favorite events over the years has been the “Authors Salon,” which has been running for 28 years. The group now works with Books Inc. to host an annual lunch and author presentation.
Griffiths attended Stanford University, where she got married during her senior year. She and her husband John moved to Alaska, where she taught and he served in the ROTC. When his G.I. Bill benefits were cut off, John tended bar and worked as a postman to make ends meet.
They returned to Palo Alto after 19 months in Alaska and her husband pursued a law degree at Stanford. He would go on to practice as a mediator in construction litigation until his death 11 years ago.
She got her real estate license in 1973 and has been selling homes since.
Griffiths said she’s glad to see changes in society since her college days.
“I didn’t have an identity besides being “John’s wife” when my husband was in law school,” Griffiths said. “It was so chauvinistic those days. It’s so different today. Women are where it’s at; women have more opportunities now.”
What advice does she have for young women today?
“Whatever you want to do, do it,” she said. “Don’t lose your femininity, be kind to your fellow human beings and join Peninsula Volunteers.”
For more information on Peninsula Volunteers, go to penvol.org. Griffiths’ interview can be found on the CBS 5 website. Her interview also airs on KCBS All News 740 AM and FM 106.9 at 11:50 a.m. and 3:50 p.m. July 21.
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