Volunteerism is a way of life for Laurie Mastin.
It is a way of life made possible because of two things. Her employer and her family.
Laurie has been working with National Grid (Niagara Mohawk) for almost 35 years. She started as a steno clerk in Dunkirk.
After transferring to the Batavia Office 31 years ago, and taking the necessary math and electrical theory courses needed to become a consumer representative, she says her life has come full circle.
"I believe in paying back," Mastin says. "That's how I was raised."
Her volunteer work in Genesee County all began with her kids, she says.
"In the 1990s I was the soccer mom."
With three boys playing in the Pavilion Amature Soccer Association and being heavily involved in Boy Scouts and a regular volunteer at St. Mary's in Pavilion, Laurie and her husband, Randy, were always on the go outside of their everyday jobs.
Laurie and Randy have been married for 31 years and their sons are, Gregory, 30, Andrew, 28, and Michael, 25.
Laurie, who is originally from Fillmore in Alleghany County, met her husband at the age of 15. They became friends after working a Rotary Camp in Pike with their fathers. They never dated until they were 21. They married at 22, and Laurie had their first son at age 23. Randy is originally from Dansville.
When they married, they decided that Pavilion would be a great place to settle down and live because it was located in between Randy's job in Dansville and Laurie's job in Batavia.
In 2002, Laurie's employer asked her if she would like to go through Leadership Genesee.
It's a 12-month course that works on team building and networking. She says this course was a pivotal, life changing time for her. It was also a springboard for Mastin.
"It makes you look at what is going on in your community. It makes you look at the mirror and at your strengths and weaknesses and what you want to change and how to get there."
Mastin says she did not feel very outgoing at the time and did not like to go outside of her comfort zone.
After completing Leadership Genesee, Mastin says she has taken some chances professionally and is a lot more confident. She joined the steering committee for Leadership Genesee and was the editor for their newsletter and helped with curriculum planning.
A classmate sponsored Laurie for Rotary in February of 2003.
"Rotary does so many things -- it's not just having lunch once a week, we raise a lot of money that goes right back into the community," Mastin says. "We fund 15 to 20 organizations for different grants they ask for on an annual basis."
Mastin is currently the Rotary board secretary and says over the years the Rotary Genesee County Nursing Home Christmas Party has become her favorite event. The event is in its 93rd year and began when the home was located in Bethany.
All the nursing home residents who are able to attend are brought to the atrium and Bill Pitcher and the Ghost Riders entertain everyone while each resident in the facility gets a Christmas present. Mastin says, "Each time I've gone to this event and had someone say 'this is the only present I got this year, thank you so much.' "
Mastin has also been involved in the past four Rotary theatrical shows and is an active Rotary chairperson for the Youth Exchange Selection, Girls basketball tournament, Oktoberfest, Christmas at the County nursing home and the United Way Day of Caring.
In recognition of her tremendous Batavia Rotary volunteer efforts, Mastin was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award.
Membership in Rotary then led to her being asked to be on the board for the Genesee Orleans Regional Arts Council (GO ART!). She spent two three-year terms on the board and is very proud of the revamping of the GO ART! building at Main and Bank streets in Donwtown Batavia in 2005.
"It was a huge undertaking," Mastin says. "Getting the money and figuring out how to get it done, it was very meaningful."
During her term at GO ART!, Mastin was then recruited as a Junior Achievment presenter at John Kennedy School in Batavia. She volunteered in the kindergarten class for seven years.
In 2008, Mastin was the recipient of the YWCA Fabulous Female Award. The award is given out each year to a female in the community who is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice and freedom and dignity for all people.
In addition to being a volunteer for education, the arts and business, Laurie shared her volunteer skills with those who are less fortunate in the community.
Laurie provided leadership to the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern by serving on its board of directors from 2009- 2011. The Ministry of Concern works with people to provide emergency services for the poor and encourages needy members of the community to become independent and self-sufficient members of society.
When Laurie's mother became ill in 2011, she decided to step down with the Ministry of Concern and devote her time to taking care of her mom in Fillmore.
Mastin lost her mother this past year. Her 89-year-old father, who is also a Rotarian, still lives in Fillmore.
When Mastin's boss, Paul Kazmierczak, nominated her for Geneseean of the Year, she says she felt she did not deserve it this year.
"I am just doing Rotary now," Mastin says. "I feel uncomfortable about getting this award. I have worked with so many people on all these different avenues."
Kazmierczak says, "Laurie Mastin is a volunteer 'leader' who keeps on giving to all facets of Genesee County. She is a special person and a unique asset and ambassador."
"People are doing the work here in Genesee County," Mastin says. "I think that's what sets us apart from other counties across the state. Other counties don't see the collaboration we have here with local governments and economic developement.
"We have infrastructure here. We can disagree on things, but come to a table and hash things out and not stonewall things and that is how things get done here."
Over the last 31 years National Grid has allowed Laurie to do her job largely unsupervised, but if she needs help her bosses are always there.
"They kind of let me do what I do here to be successful not just in my job, but in the community, and I support that. I am very grateful."
Photo by Howard Owens