For Women’s History Month, The Suffolk County News is celebrating mothers. We asked locals to nominate spectacular moms who have gone above and beyond to serve not only their children, but their communities as a force of nurture. Each week we will be profiling one of the nominees.
This week is Wendy Clare, born, bred, and bountiful in Bayport, who was nominated by three people for being a “Phenomenal Mom.”
The Suffolk County News: One of your nominators said her son referred to you as a “professional volunteer.” How do you think you came to earn that nickname?
Wendy Clare: [Laughs] Oh dear, I am so shocked by this attention, I am still in disbelief, but deeply honored that not one, but three people nominated me. I think my work with the Society Encouraging the Arts in Bayport-Blue Point Schools and the Booster Club probably prompted the nominations.
SCN: Did you think you’d be a parent who would be so involved?
WC: Not at all! In fact, I actually recently had a conversation with someone I went to high school with in the ‘80s who was president of student government, and I told her how thankful I was for all the work she did and how I was sorry I took it for granted. I was a cheerleader back in the day, but nowhere as involved in the community as I became as an adult.
SCN: How did you come to know the school system so well and the supporting agencies that were involved?
WC: I taught elementary school at Sylvan for 11 years and when I had children and left my position, it was a natural position to lead from the “parent” side, I guess. The special events replaced the need the teacher in me had to cultivate and guide children.
SCN: What really struck me in the nominations for you was your ability to get others involved in projects. How did you go about inspiring people to devote their own time and resources?
WC: When they saw me coming, they knew! I just knew how important support organizations and events were for not just my children, but all children, and I took that vision to help ingratiate others into volunteer work. This is what makes our community so special, that we are working together for the best of everyone. I really feel I tapped into that ubiquitous spirit of togetherness in Bayport-Blue Point.
SCN: What challenges have you had in getting people together for community service?
WC: When I was Academy PTA president, I made sure we had an eclectic board. I wanted to be sure that everyone had representation and that we could learn from each other to best serve our children and the community. Throughout my children’s academic careers, I’ve always had all kinds of moms as friends and it has shown to be such a strength for getting the best resources for volunteer opportunities. I really have such an admiration for working moms, who put in a full day of work and still have the energy to help.
SCN: Was it difficult getting so involved at first?
WC: When I first joined the PTA, it was really to get to know the parents and families of kids my kids would be friends with, that they would one day drive in cars with. It’s really a sense of community pride that I feel in getting to know others and I make sure to be approachable for new parents looking to help.
SCN: How has volunteering changed this year with the pandemic?
WC: With both an athlete and a musician in the family, it has really been heartbreaking to watch my kids lose out on performance time that is so important to them, but that’s only motivated me to get involved with programs like “Adopt a Senior” to get the community to help bring back that magic of senior year that the Class of 2021 has lost.