A man of many hats
by Emanuel County Live | July 31, 2012 6:12 pm
by KATELYN MOORE
Mack Griffin is one of Emanuel County’s more recognizable citizens, and not just because he is the County President of Queensborough National Bank and Trust in Swainsboro. Griffin is continually out in the community working to better the lives of area children, either through his work with the Shrine Club, Sheriff’s Youth Homes, or the Exchange Club.
The Past Potentate of the Alee Shrine Temple in Savannah (2008) and currently serving as treasurer of the Board of Governors for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Greenville, S.C., Griffin has dedicated his life to helping children have the best life has to offer.
“I was very honored to be named to serve on that board,” Griffin says. He was appointed to the Board of Governors by the Imperial Potentate in 2009, after his term as Potentate of the Alee Shrine Temple was over. He also will be Vice Chairman of the Board in 2013. “It is very rewarding, and I get to see first-hand what we do for kids.”
The Shriner’s Hospital is Griffin’s biggest project. “I’ve seen a lot of kids that have rediscovered life as a child should. I can tell you story after story,” he says. “I’ve seen incidents where a young child was told that they’d never walk, and, after the child was treated in Greenville, they are now walking and even running.”
The first Shriner’s Hospital was established in 1922 as a place to treat polio. The hospital system has evolved to deal with orthopedic needs, as well as burns. There are currently 20 Shriner’s Hospitals in the United States, as well as one in Canada and one in Mexico, and all are run on donations. The funds come from Shriners fundraisers such as barbecues and ticket sales, as well as from wills and bequeaths from families and friends of Shriners who leave money as part of an endowment fund.
“No matter what race, color or creed a child is or whether or not they have money for treatment, we’ll see them,” explains Griffin. “The hospitals treat orthopedic problems, skeletal problems, limb deficiencies, and even burns now in the burn center in Cincinnati, Ohio.”
The mission of the Shriners is to support the Shriner’s Hospitals, and the Swainsboro Shrine Club raised $60,000 last year for the hospital in Greenville.
“The reason we’re able to raise this amount of funds is because of the great support of Emanuel County citizens, as well as groups like the River Rats and Swainsboro Raceway, as well as many others,” he explains. “There are no cash registers in the hospitals. We don’t take money from families.”
“Being involved in the leadership of [the hospital] as I am, I realize the importance of the work they do and the importance of fundraising to keep them going,” he says. “If there’s third party coverage [insurance], we’ll take what it will pay, but if insurance won’t pay it, it isn’t a problem. We’ll still treat the child. We treat children without reservation.”
The Greenville hospital sees around 1400 children a month, and currently 242 of those children are from the Alee Temple area, which encompasses 32 counties, including ours. Greenville’s first-class care facilities cover six states.
“I want to thank the citizens of Emanuel County for their continued support of the Shriner’s Hospital for Children,” he emphasizes.
“The most rewarding part in this mission that we have is, for me, identifying kids that really have no chance to be normal kids–to run and walk and play like other kids. It is very rewarding to see results happen with our hospitals,” he says. “It is not about the parades or the functions. It is about the kids.”
Griffin admits that he gets rather intense about the project. “There are a lot of charities in this world, and they all have good purposes, but there are only so many dollars that people can put towards charities,” he says. “I want [the Shriners] to be good stewards of the funds we get, and I want us to be worthy of what we get. We have very strict rules in our fraternity, and if a fundraiser is advertised for a purpose, that’s where all the money goes. We don’t take out costs or food or anything. It all goes to the purpose.”
He explains that the Shriners raise just enough money to cover operating costs for the club, and the rest goes to the hospital. “Every dollar counts,” he says. The Shriner’s Hospitals have been going for 90 years now, “and we hope to be doing this for 90 more years and beyond.”
In addition to the Shriners and other local clubs, Griffin is also a member of the Scottish Rite in Savannah, which supports and raises funds for the Rite Care Center, located on the campus of Armstrong-Atlantic State College in Savannah. The mission of the Rite Care Center is to treat children with speech and hearing problems, and Griffin helps with fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for the Center.
The Swainsboro Masonic Lodge also supports and raises money for the Masonic Home for Boys and Girls, located in Macon.
Griffin also serves as chair of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Sheriff Youth Home Herrington Homestead campus. “It is a smaller scale than the Shriner’s Hospital, but it is just as important,” he says. “We do fundraisers during the year for them and we have a lot of great support from the community as well.”
“I wear a lot of hats, but it is all about the kids,” Griffin emphasizes. “I don’t have a lot of time for my hobbies, which include fishing and riding my motorcycle, but it is very rewarding to be involved in a community like Emanuel County.”
In between all of his community service efforts, as well as his banking career and being the finance chairman of Calvary United Methodist Church, Griffin also has time for his family. His wife retired after 50 years of banking, and he has two sons, a stepson and a stepdaughter. One son is a partner in an accounting firm in Duluth and is married with three children, while the other recently moved with his wife and their three children to Hawaii from Portland, Oregon, as part of his job with Progressive. Griffin’s stepson runs a local heating and air conditioning business, while his stepdaughter lives in Charleston, S.C.