Paying it forward
ISLIP—This year’s Inspiration Award goes to Liz Mayott, a longtime resident of Islip. She has been an enthusiastic volunteer for decades working to better her community while inspiring others to do the same.
Though Mayott is a vibrant, familiar figure in the local area, most would still be surprised to learn what she’s been able to accomplish over the years. However, she shrugs when receiving any recognition for it all. In fact, upon hearing she won this award, she remarked, “I was shocked. I don’t like these things.
“My favorite motto is, ‘Always do things with a good heart, and never do anything with the expectation of getting something in return,’” she said.
Despite her reluctance for recognition, Mayott has indeed received many commendations from the various individuals, families and organizations she has given up her free time to help out. A Rotary member, she was recently honored as Islip’s Rotarian of the Year and received that organization’s Paul Harris International Award.
Her selfless attitude began at an early age. Born and raised in the South Bronx, Mayott moved to Islip more than 30 years ago after visiting a close friend who had been residing in the hamlet. She liked the community, found employment and decided to settle there. She met her husband Jim, a Bay Shore native, at East Islip Lanes.
Mayott began volunteering soon after at her parish, St. Mary’s R.C. Church in East Islip. “I just wanted to volunteer for something, so I began assisting with baptisms,” she said. After her daughter Nan was born, she became involved with the Islip School District, joining the PTA and working on various other school committees. Though Nan is now grown and on her own, Mayott remains active in the school district, serving with several youth-based groups such as Islip Drug Education Awareness and the high school’s post-prom committee, which provides safe alternative entertainment for students after their senior prom.
“[Volunteering] just evolved,” she noted. “I don’t think about it, I just love to do it.”
Mayott had been an active member of Islip Friends of the Arts and Friends of Soccer. She continues to volunteer for the Town of Islip’s Anti-Bias Task Force, Islip North Community Watch Group, Seatuck Environmental Association, Brookwood Hall Restoration Committee, Our Lady of Consolation Nursing & Rehabilitative Care Center, Islip Breast Cancer Coalition and Northwell Community Outreach Health Education Council, to promote wellness.
She spent 14 years with the Islip Chamber of Commerce, serving as secretary and vice president. During her tenure, she chaired the holiday parade, a joint venture between the chamber and the Town of Islip, and helped coordinate Merry on Main that was held one year in concert with the parade. Mayott brought Light the Night into the community, which was also held during the holiday season. She helped oversee Main Street’s holiday decorations as well. In warmer weather, she chaired the Islip Main Street Festival.
Mayott is part of a group titled “Jammin’ for the Community” that meets monthly to make peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches to be distributed to churches and various soup kitchens in the area. And in the wake of Hurricane Maria, she helped coordinate an effort to put care packages of toiletries together to be sent to Puerto Rico, which was devastated by the storm.
“You don’t have to do big things. It’s the little things in life that count,” she said.
Mayott is currently the president of Islip Food for Hope. The Islip Town-based organization raises funds to provide Thanksgiving baskets to needy families and holds an annual community picnic at Ross Park in Brentwood, which is open to everyone in that community and beyond. She said seeing the faces of the adults and especially the children who are unquestionably in need is always heartbreaking. It’s something she could relate to as well.
“I saw so much poverty in the Bronx,” she noted. “I always had food and a loving home, but I was raised just with the necessities. But I was also raised with good values.”
Those values have led her to continue to help those less fortunate. Mayott has run many fundraisers over the years for families that have fallen on hard times or for those struggling through a catastrophic illness. “It doesn’t have to be someone from Islip. I’ll help anyone who reaches out to me.
“I thrive on running fundraisers, especially for someone in need,” she said.
Mayott intends to continue doing good deeds, and she is very optimistic about the next generation continuing to do good things in the future. “I’ve seen more kids getting involved,” she said. “I get phone calls all the time from kids who want to volunteer.” And that’s something that reflects a philosophy she’s carried throughout life.
“I believe in paying it forward,” she said.
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