Sarah Stanley of Franklin gives what she has, especially to veterans, to make her town better 

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 03-27-2023 5:51 PM

Sarah Stanley’s family name, Griffin, is forever part of the Frankin landscape.

Her married name, meanwhile, has had its own impact on the town, this one centered at the Veterans Home in Tilton. That’s where Stanley has worked the past three years, replacing longtime staffer Len Stewart as the home’s public information officer.

She works full-time at the Veterans Home, often putting in more than 40 hours to make sure soldiers who have stormed beaches and been wounded in action receive the comfort they deserve.

Fellow Rotarian Carisa Corrow nominated Stanley for the Monitor’s Hometown Hero series, writing, “Can we nominate other members of my family instead? I think that’s what Sarah might say as the whole family gives back to the community in various ways. Sarah helps keep neighbors connected through Rotary, Business and Professional Women, and other volunteer groups in the city. She loves Franklin, and it’s clear through a conversation and her actions. She’s a valuable resource, a kind spirit and has had an enormous impact on the veterans she now serves.”

She’s an important figure to longtime Franklin residents. Griffin Beach, overlooking Webster Lake, was named after Stanley’s great uncle decades ago “as an honor to a longstanding individual in the community,” Stanley said.

A local drug store was also named after her great uncle, and her grandmother owned a local business where Benson Auto now sits.

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Stanley is a Franklin native who moved away during her school years after her parents divorced, but returned summers to visit her father. She’s been back in town for 40 years.

Like many patriots, Stanley has always had a weak spot for veterans. She worked in banking and long-term health for the Division of Health and Human Services before beginning a new career, in her early 50s, that suits her just fine.

“Working for the Veterans Home is the best of all worlds,” Stanley said. “I love veterans and I was very thankful I got (the job). It was hard to leave (DHHS), but I still work for the state and I still help people. I helped with the Covid response and Homeland Security, so I’m keeping my fingers in the DHHS pie and working for veterans.”

Her fingers extend to other areas and places as well. Stanley founded the all-volunteer-run Veterans Memorial Recreation Area in town. Once a ski area only, the place is now operational all year, boasting the usual cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and skating, and adding hiking trails, disc golf and other warm-weather activities.

Her dad, Mike Mullavey, now 81, was president of the Lakes Region Habitat for Humanity for 10 years. He built 20 homes over a 10-year span for low-income families, Stanley said.

“There are so many people that deserve credit and I feel humbled,” Stanley said. “My dad is definitely the person who inspired me to be community involved.”

Mullavey’s Rotarian membership influenced his daughter to join, one of the many connections she’s utilized to maintain a network of communal spirit and keep tabs on the heartbeat of the area.

In 2003 she helped start Choose Franklin, an all-volunteer program to “promote the community through collaboration and communication,” Stanley said. “It’s like a Main Street program.”

She’s also involved with a high school scholarship program that encourages networking and recognizes the creativity and skills shown by young women in the business world.

“It introduces the youth to experiences that are relevant and life-changing as we grow,” Stanley said. “Learning things like knowing you may need four years of college to earn a higher income, or you’ll pay more for insurance if you buy a sports car. It’s like staging a reality fair and showing there are good and bad choices and there are consequences for both.”

Her work in this endeavor helps Stanley inspire young people, while another part of her identity, a bigger part, stems from her work with seniors seeking peace, quiet and a good conversationalist.

“This is a rewarding field,” Stanley said. “I’m assisting with the quality of life, and that is second to none. Knowing they are here and they need help. Each has different things that make them tick, and finding those niches and helping them to thrive is a great feeling that I love.”

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