Giving back is way of life for Elizabeth Chalfant

Published 10:41 am Tuesday, March 28, 2017

For Elizabeth Chalfant, volunteering is a way of life.

She has been president and treasurer of the Winchester Arts Council. She is on the board for the Fort Boonesborough Foundation.

She works with homemakers clubs. She leads the selection of arts and crafts vendors for the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival.

Her favorite volunteer job, though, is keeping her grandchildren.

She has volunteered in multiple arenas for decades, as she, husband George and their family moved to follow his career with the U.S. Forest Service from Washington to Oregon to West Virginia, and finally, Winchester. 

“I’ve always had something to do, but I’ve never had a job,” she said. 

She started dabbling with art and folk art while her children were young, but learned about making lampshades in a homemakers class. That’s been a side business for the last 29 years, she said, working for a store in Lexington.

It also allows her time to volunteer. She has been chair and treasurer for the Winchester Art Guild since 1994, leading the organization and the vendor approval for the Pioneer Festival. The festival, she said, funds the guild’s scholarship program. 

Though the Internet has cut down on the travel required to scope out festivals and craftspeople, it is still a year-round job.

“I already probably have 60 applications filled (for this year’s festival),” she said. “We have 115 booths outside (in College Park) and 35 in the gym.”

Three years ago, the guild opened its gallery and she volunteers there too, staffing the gallery some of the four days it’s open each week.

“We need more customers,” she said. “We’re working on it.”

At the same time, she and George are heavily involved with the Fort Boonesborough Foundation, which augments programs at Fort Boonesborough State Park just across the river in Madison County. She got involved there through serving on the tourism commission.

“When I went on (the tourism commission), we promoted the fort and Natural Bridge,” she said. The park, and the civil war fort in Clark County, are both important to Clark County as Winchester is the closest city to both facilities, she said.

“That park is important to this county and our tourism dollars,” she said.

As state funds have been cut through the years, the foundation has been able to help with other projects at the park, like installing new signs throughout. Those funds come through events like the Fireside Chats in February and other events through the year.

The personal benefit, she said, is it’s something she can share with George.

“Because my husband is interested in history, it gives us something to do together,” she said.

Volunteering, she said, was instilled in her and her siblings from an early age.

“As I thought about it, I realized the reason it comes naturally to give of your time, for me, is because of my mother,” Chalfant said from the arts council’s gallery at 18 W. Lexington Ave. “She was very involved in her little community in Missouri. That was our example and we all followed.

“The give-back is if we didn’t do the Daniel Boone Festival, we wouldn’t be giving scholarships and that is important,” she said. “If we weren’t volunteering at the Fort Boonesborough, our foundation wouldn’t be the best we could. It’s not for what we do. It’s for the good of the community.”

About Whitney Leggett

Whitney Leggett is managing editor of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. To contact her, email whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0049.

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