Caring Community: Grindstaff shares journey, encourages action of volunteering

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2018

(Editor’s Note: This is the first in an ongoing series by the Elizabethton Star recognizing volunteers who give up hours of their day to give back to the public. Readers who want to nominate an individual, or individuals, to be recognized in the series can either email or call (423) 297-9057) 

A call to give back to others continues to ring true for Emma Grindstaff.

Grindstaff noted she always tried to give back when she could, but with passing of her daughter, Dana, and granddaughter, Sara, that passion to help others grew even more.

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“They passed away from smoke inhalation,” Grindstaff said. “Dana and Sara had started on their journey of life and were taken way too soon. So I set out to make a change.”

One of the goals that meant a lot to Grindstaff was to see portable ladders be placed at Pine Ridge Circle for the upstairs apartments in the area. Dana and Sara passed away in a second-level apartment. But with Grindstaff and others taking to the streets for fundraising initiatives, the housing complex was able to get ladders months ago.

“There was a long, hard road fighting to help 150 families to have a way out in case of a fire,” Grindstaff said. “It took me over a year to get the go ahead to place fire chain ladders. Once everything was cleared, my journey started with the Safekeeping Project in Honor of Dana and Sara. I am so honored to have the chance to help the tenants in honor of my girls.”

Grindstaff said the mission is to provide different projects to recognize the lives of Dana and Sara.

Along with the ladders’ project, Grindstaff added the joy is also in abundance for the third annual blood drive, sponsored by the Red Cross, which honors the life of Dana, who wanted to be a phlebotomist.

“Dana and Sara were both organ donors,” Grindstaff said. “This led me to start a yearly blood drive in their memory. December will mark the third annual drive. I thought what better gift could there be than blood to save others.

“Dana’s loving and giving heart of volunteering for many things, whether it be at blood drives, the animal shelter or with a friend in need, set me up for my journey,” Grindstaff continued. “I raised Dana to help others and to be a loving supportive person to others.”

Grindstaff also added that another project has picked up traction – Santa’s Elves.

“I started this group in 2016,” Grindstaff said. “I had bought Dana and Sara’s Christmas … I wasn’t sure what to do so I found families that needed help.”

Santa’s Elves was able to find families in need and provide presents.

“We are made up of eight people,” she said. “Last year we helped five families. I wish we could do more but we are a small group.”

Grindstaff was quick to offer thanks to everyone that has support her throughout her journey, and offered encouraging words to others looking to get involved.

“Get involved with your community,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s something as simple as giving someone a ride or as big as saving a life. It is about volunteering your time and heart. Never think one person’s voice can’t change things. I’m not in social groups that volunteer their time, I’m just one person doing the best I can for others.”