Published July 13, 2014
The Scranton Times-Tribune (paywalled)
When Eileen Eddins moved back to Northeast Pennsylvania from Florida, she did not anticipate the fulfilling life of volunteer work she would have.
The Archbald native began working with Head Start in Jermyn and Forest City in the mid-1970s and continued her career with the agency after she moved to Florida. After working for more than 25 years she was told she would need to get a college degree in order to stay employed. She graduated from college at 63 and retired shortly afterward.
While enjoyable, life after retirement in 2006 from the Head Start program in Lecanto, Florida, became even more pleasant after the birth of her daughter’s first child in NEPA. Hearing that her daughter was paying a daily fee for a baby sitter, Mrs. Eddins and her husband, Peter, decided to pack up and head north to be with her daughter and her family in Greentown.
Two years later, her daughter had another baby girl. When Mrs. Eddins attended her baptism at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hamlin, she decided she wanted to work with the parish, and her life of volunteering began.
Mrs. Eddins is humble about her hard work, making a point to say that there are several other volunteers who dedicate their time to the church as well. But her six-year list of volunteering goes on and on.
Her work ranges from baking cookies for church dinners to buying Christmas presents for children as part of St. John’s Angel Tree program. She also has been a member of the church vestry for several years.
In addition to working with the church, Mrs. Eddins recently started donating her time at her granddaughters’ school, Wallenpaupack South Elementary. She volunteers at the school’s movie nights, assists in collecting and sorting clothing for families in need, wraps presents in the school’s Santa shop and is the designated baby sitter for the parents’ PTO meetings.
Over the last six years, Mrs. Eddins hasn’t let anything stop her, not even a double knee replacement. When her recovery time conflicted with her baking schedule of more than 2,000 cookies for St. John’s Christmas party, she pulled up a stool next to her husband and got to work despite his protests.
“It wasn’t even an option to tell them I can’t do it this year. They need the fundraisers,” she said.
Mrs. Eddins did not always live the fulfilling life she lives now. She graduated from Archbald High School in 1960 and was married shortly afterward. The marriage ended in divorce 13 years later after a difficult court battle. Responsible for a 15-month-old daughter and a 10-year-old son, she started working two jobs to support them. When her children got older and lived on their own, she decided to move to Florida, where she met and married Mr. Eddins.
Mrs. Eddin’s daughter, Jennifer Mercereau, spoke highly of her mother’s dedication.
“Let me describe, from my point of view, my mom in a nutshell. She got out of a marriage to save her kids, worked two jobs to help her kids, moved here from a life by the beach to help her kid. Never am I told ‘no’ with help for her grandchildren,” she said, getting choked up. “Nobody’s ever told ‘No’ that is in my mother’s life.”
When she is not helping the community, Mrs. Eddins enjoys being able to travel with her husband. In the 12 years she and Mr. Eddins have been married, they have traveled across the country several times and been to Paris, Australia and England, where Mr. Eddins was born and raised. They have visited landmarks such as Stonehenge and Lands End.
“I’m happy at home, though, cooking and baking,” she said, noting that her first love is being able to spend time with her granddaughters.
Meet Eileen Eddins:
At home: She and her husband, Peter, reside in Greentown. She has a daughter, Jennifer Mercereau, also of Greentown, and a son, David Soroka, Arizona. She is a daughter of William and Mary Welsch.
At work: She retired from Head Start after 30 years.
Inspirations: Her husband, Peter Eddins; her daughter, Jennifer Mercereau; and her first supervisor at Head Start, Sally Kane, who influenced her to help the kids she worked with.
Aspirations: To volunteer more both at her church and at Wallenpaupack South Elementary School, ideally in a classroom; and to travel more.
Diversions: Crocheting and baking
Aversions: Mean-spirited people
Quote: “If you can’t say anything nice about people, don’t say anything at all.”