Eileen Greenlay: Beyond the Grant Member Spotlight

By Janet Mazur Cavano

Tell us about what you do for a living.
I’m the Director of development for the Mercy Center in Asbury Park. We are a ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. We provide programs and services for people facing socio-economic challenges – these include a food pantry, a family resource center, youth groups, parenting classes, counseling and referral programs for victims or witnesses of crime. We also run Sisters Academy, grades 5 to 8, for girls from economically-challenged families. I manage fund-raising appeals, social media, and many other things.

How did you find out about Impact 100 Jersey Coast?
Being in the non-profit world, I was very familiar with Impact. In early 2019, a few people recommended that I go to a membership drive. So I attended an event in Asbury Park, and joined immediately!

Wow. What resonated for you most?
I appreciate the simplicity of what Impact is. It’s a simple model. It’s very clear where the funds are going, who is benefitting and how the funds are being used. There’s no ambiguity. And it’s local in YOUR community. These are organizations I could walk to – they’re literally in my backyard.

What roles have you taken on at Impact?
I served on the environment Focus Area Committee (FAC) in 2019. I used this an opportunity to understand the inner workings of Impact. Going through the application process was very inspiring and very educational as well. We weren’t afraid to challenge the non-profits and make sure they were capable of answering tough questions. What I loved about it was that even though I was a new member, I served as a site leader; just because you’re new doesn’t mean you’re not capable!

What is one thing you learned about Impact in the last month?
In my role with the volunteer coordinator, I’m learning that we are not immune to the impact of Covid. We’ve been forced to be innovative and we’re also gaining strength as we are forced to be more humble. I’m seeing firsthand the behind the scenes stress of organizing the annual meeting virtually. Just like every organization and family, we’re adjusting and pivoting as best we can.

What have you personally gotten from your Impact experience?
You can leverage your membership as a personal development opportunity. You also mix and mingle with influential women in the community. This can benefit you directly or it can also just be a way to learn what’s going on in your community. A lot of the members are business owners, professionals, or are very savvy because they have children in the school system. You learn a lot more about the world that you live in.

In what other philanthropic or non-profit organizations are you active?
Since 1992, I’ve been involved with an international non-profit called Unbound.
I served on their board of directors for nine years and it was a wonderful experience!
One thing that’s very different (from other international relief organizations) is that Unbound helps people on a one-to-one basis. Every dollar I send to a 10-year-old child in India goes directly to meet her needs. Unbound partners with families living in poverty and empowers them to live in self-sufficiency.

Tell us a fun fact about you that not many people know.
I lived in Colorado twice! I lived in the heart of the mountains, very close to Breckenridge in 1994 and 1995 and then back again in 2001 and 2002. I worked at Copper Mountain Ski resort. The area is majestic, one of the most beautiful places in the country. I loved it but I missed being back east with my family and friends and did not see myself settling there.

What keeps you sane?
My dog Jedi. She’s a rescue dog, a Pointer-mix. She has provided my husband and me with so much joy and comfort and distraction and laughter – all the things a loveable pet can provide!

What’s the best life advice you’ve ever received?
Get a dog!

What’s the most recent book you read?
“The Giver of Stars,” by JoJo Moyes. It’s a really wonderful story that in a weird way reminded me of Impact 100. A group of women get together, overcome adversity and stick together through thick and thin. It’s a soothing read and the author pulls you in instantly!

Eileen, a native of Philadelphia, lives in Spring Lake Heights with her husband and their rescue dog, Jedi.

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