MOOERS - Since the day she was born, Gloria Lafountain has known the North Country as her home and has made tireless efforts to do her part in the community. However, in doing so, Lafountain is credited for having gone above and beyond standard duties to improve the lives of others.
Much of the time, Lafountain can be found volunteering at St. Ann's Church in Mooers Forks, where she has been a member for a number of years. There, she serves as secretary for the St. Ann's Parish Council, as well as St. Ann's Society, and administers the Catholic establishment's Eucharist. She also helps with after-funeral luncheons for mourning families, warming the provided food and serving it for the families, saving them from having to do it.
If that weren't enough, Lafountain is involved with the church's newly-organized pancake breakfast committee, to help raise finances for St. Ann's. She has even taken on the responsibility of being co-chairperson for an upcoming craft sale through the church, which will also benefit St. Ann's.
In addition to being a member of the Mooers Good Fellowship Club, Lafountain is treasurer of the Knights of Columbus Auxiliary - an organization that assembles fundraisers for the fraternal service organization. She became involved with the auxiliary through her husband's K of C membership.
"He was always involved; he was a community-minded person," said Lafountain said of her late husband, Albert. "He loved to help out and I'm sure it probably followed through."
Once a month, along with a friend, Lafountain also picks up food from the Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties and delivers it to the doors of those in need. During the holiday season, she helps deliver fruit baskets to deprived families with other St. Ann's volunteers. She notes the tears and expression on each family's faces speak for themselves, and it brightens up her day to bring such joy to others.
One of the principles that fuels Lafountain's drive, is her belief in the good nature of the community. She recalls when her great nephew was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and his conditions seemed to be getting worse, the Lafountain family held a spaghetti dinner to benefit the young boy.
"The community that came out was [astonishing]. If you can give back a little, it just makes you feel good," said Lafountain. "[I've] learned that the community is always there to help. People are thankful and it makes [what I do] gratifying."
Since retiring from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals four years ago, Lafountain has expanded her community service even further. She began volunteering at the food pantry at the Mooers Wesleyan Church, where she helps provide meals for the less fortunate. Depending on the week, Lafountain helps administer warm food to 20 families or more.
"When you see the people come in and you know that they are needy and you can thank the good Lord [for] what you have - it just makes you feel good [to help]," said Lafountain.
Each week, Lafountain also hosts 'Why Catholic Weekly' in her home. The group's purpose is to act as a sharing session for attendants. Finding it hard to say 'no' in response to anything that may help others, Lafountain graciously complied when Deacon Dennis Monty asked her to host the weekly gathering. The faith-based meeting is in its third year, and boasts 13 followers.
Elizabeth Ashline of Mooers, who has been a friend of Lafountain for nearly 35 years, applauds her efforts.
"[Lafountain] plays a big part in the community. It's something most people wouldn't normally do," said Ashline. "She's a very busy person."
Ashline met Lafountain in 1975 through the Youth Ministry Team, another faith-based affair for which Lafountain and her husband opened their doors. They acted as host parents, who allowed for teachings of the church to commence inside their house.
"I think it's commendable to go through all this work, and she does it with a good heart. I don't see her doing it for [anything in return]. That's a big responsibility," noted Ashline. "It's something most people wouldn't normally do."
"[I don't know] how to say 'no' to anything," laughed Lafountain. "You don't look for money, you look for the joy of doing it and the fun you have doing it all. It's a lot of fun and it's rewarding."
Lafountain said the feeling she gets from her service is more valuable to her than any amount of money could ever be.
Editor's Note: Andrew Matott is a student correspondent from Northeastern Clinton Central School in Jessica Mehrman's journalism class. If you know someone who deserves recognition for his or her efforts, contact editor Jeremiah S. Papineau at 561-9680, ext. 102, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.