MT. VERNON, N.Y. – Volunteerism grabbed Mount Vernon’s Nancy Fitch by the heart and never let her go. Nearly 70 years after serving as a den mother for the Boy Scouts, the 93-year-old Realtor maintains a commitment with a variety of groups.
“My parents saw to it that, as an only child, I wasn’t selfish and that I made time to help others,’’ said Fitch, who works for Houlihan Lawrence in Bronxville.
“I think I started before most people even know what volunteerism was. It was just a part of your life. I met a young man recently who is now a judge, and he said I gave him his first job doing things around the house. Young people don’t forget things like that. I have a place in their lives, and that makes me feel special.”
One of Fitch’s primary passions as a volunteer is her work with the Literacy Volunteers of Westchester County. She has been working with the group for 22 years, and teaches students three days a week. “I see the great need for people to communicate so that they can fit into society and they can have a good life,’’ Fitch said. “If they can’t read or write, they’re in big trouble.”
The range of ability with whom she works varies. Some have been working with her for a few months. She says that her learners stay with her as long as they need, sometimes for several years. Fitch says the reward is seeing students progress.
“It’s like a cactus flower,’’ Fitch said. “The cactus doesn’t flower often. When they do, it’s beautiful to see. For someone who is just learning to read to say ‘Oh, I get it,’ makes me feel good.”
Her list of activities is endless. She was a Brownie and Girls Scout troop leader, and was the first and only African-American president of the Westchester County Republican Woman’s Club. She still serves on the Mt. Vernon Church Women United Board of Directors, and has served on boards for the Visiting Nurses of Westchester, the County Parks, Recreation and Conservation, and the Westchester County Urban League. She was inducted into the Westchester County Senior Hall of Fame in 1996 and received the Leadership Award.
Even with all of her activities, she is regular churchgoer at Bethel Baptist Church in White Plains under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Edward O. Williamson. She sang in the choir, served as an usher and taught Sunday school. She was baptized in the same church.
“One time after church as a young girl, I had a boyfriend and a group of us would go to the ice cream parlor, and we’d hold our boyfriend’s hat,’’ Fitch said. “That’s what we did back then. One time, my boyfriend bought me a banana split - this is when they didn’t cost much - and we walked back to church. My boyfriend wasn’t walking with me. I found out my best friend was holding my boyfriend’s hat. I was devastated and cried the whole way home. But that’s how you’d lose boyfriends. Some other girl would be holding their hat.”
Fitch is a Mount Vernon treasure, as much a part of the community as any building, street or church. She has been a Realtor since the early 1970s and continues to work. She is the mother of three and has a grandson.
On her page on Houlihan Lawrence , Fitch’s wisdom is espoused clearly and succinctly: “God is my constant companion, and He knows my every need.”