More than 225 members of the community gathered April 10 to celebrate and honor Jill Spieler, the recipient of the 2019 Scarsdale Bowl at Mulino’s at Lake Isle Country Club in Eastchester.
The Scarsdale Bowl is awarded annually to an outstanding volunteer who has given time, energy and effort to the civic welfare of the community.
Spieler’s long track record of volunteering began in 1981 as a founding member of Kids’ BASE and The Little School. She joined the Scarsdale Forum board in 1999 serving as a vice president, and then president. Her volunteer work continued on the Board of Education in 2007 for two consecutive three-year terms, including a term as president of the board from 2011 to 2013.
Spieler said she looked through quotes about volunteering while preparing for the dinner and chose to share a pertinent one by an unknown author.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”
Spieler said community is what Scarsdale is all about, which is why she loves living in this village. When she moved to Greenacres, she met other mothers who were involved in volunteering.
“I asked if there was any way I could participate,” she said. “I just wanted to be involved and enjoy the new friendships I was making.”
Since then, Spieler has been a dedicated volunteer.
“Although I enjoyed my career in graphic design and marketing, I loved my work in the community,” she said. “I had a great passion for the ideals we were trying to achieve, which gave me tremendous gratificationand fulfillment.”
As her participation with volunteering continued, Spieler found herself involved with more and more projects, and she said she hopes both new and longtime residents will volunteer as well.
“I always considered it an honor whenever someone asked for my participation,” she said. “I can’t encourage you enough to ask friends and neighbors to get involved. Sometimes that’s all they need is an invitation. But for those of you who want to get involved, please don’t wait to be asked. New faces are always welcomed.”
Tributes from her circle …
Jackie Irwin, former Scarsdale Forum president; past school board president
“So many of us know Jill as the go-to person for producing ads, brochures or anything else benefitting from her graphic arts expertise. But Jill did so much more for Kids’ BASE. She was the consummate team player, willing to do whatever it took for our enterprise to succeed. She did what she was asked and she asked what more she could do to launch and nurture the program. She was always calm, always engaged and always prepared. Yet later as a leader, Jill did not flinch from addressing thorny problems and making tough decisions.
“One matter that occurred during her presidency of the Forum was the controversy over the school board’s proposed bond to replace aging plant at Quaker Ridge. Jill calmly ran membership meetings where the opposing views — repair or replace — were aired in a civil, informative manner.”
Suzanne Seiden, former board of education president
“Over many years, we have all wanted Jill Spieler on our team. She meaningfully contributes to every organization and board she is a part of.
“When I ran for school board in a contested election, Jill was part of my team, even though she didn’t know me, doing whatever was needed to help with my election and, after I joined, to make my transition successful.
“Jill forged a path for the district’s involvement and advocacy on legislative issues even taking Scarsdale’s case to Albany. She lobbied to permit strategic decision-making at the school district levels. But she never wanted credit for her work; she said the exemplary educational initiatives were a result of the collective and collaborative work by the board and the administration and Superintendent Michael McGill.
“Tonight is about recognizing, saluting, and saying thank you to our favorite team member who helped lead and served on incredibly successful teams.”
Russell (Russ) Spieler, SHS ’97
“There was always something significant happening. My mom was really good at managing the stresses and successes of this vision through looking at the different personalities, opinions and needs of the community. My mom was able to take all those different things in and mix them all together and come back to something that was respectful of the different people’s desires and needs. She was able to allow [people] to speak their minds, but also to take all that in and try to come up with something that drove the conversation forward, got things done and help the greater good of the community.”
Danielle (Dani) Spieler, SHS ’03
“I started the process of writing this speech thinking my mom’s volunteerism had hardly any impact on me at all; but what I’ve come to realize is that it’s actually impacted my entire life. There’s the concrete impact, like learning to be focused with my time and energy like she’s always been, being incredibly detailed-oriented and organized and giving of myself to my own Broadway community through various benefits and charity events. But more importantly, there’s the intangible impact that her inspired dedication to the bettering of her community and fellow citizens will have on me for the rest of my life. It’s awoken in me the desire to one day be as hard of a worker, as dedicated of a neighbor and as good of a mother as she has been.”