PUTNAM VALLEY, N.Y. -- Ellen Hayes’ whirlwind days start before the first rooster cackles and finish when the moon reaches its zenith. In between, the Putnam Valley energy bundle packs 18 hours or more of work, conversation, and volunteerism into making her community a better place.
“I find,” Hayes said, “that ‘no’ is a difficult word for me to say.”
Her most recent project benefitting Putnam Valley is the formation of the Putnam Valley Business Network, an organization similar to the Chamber of Commerce. Hayes led the way in getting the group started. Working on the project over the last year, Hayes drafted the business outline, wrote the certificate of incorporation, bylaws, and filed the paperwork that designates the organization as a 501-3(c). She was just recently named its President.
The Network’s mission is to promote the growth of commercial and civic interests of Putnam Valley and its surrounding area, provide information to members, and facilitate business and job creation.
“There’s a lot more business in Putnam Valley than people realize,’’ Hayes said. “When we started digging in, it’s amazing how many businesses we have. We do not have a lot of storefronts. But we do have a lot of people who work out of their homes, and lot of home and professional services and contractors, such as plumbers, roofers and accountants. There’s actually a lot of businesses here. That’s why we created the business directory on our website for folks to browse our local businesses for whatever services they are looking for. We are encouraging all of our local home based businesses to become members.”
The group plans its first networking event on Thursday, Sept. 28, at Char’s Steakhouse in Putnam Valley. Tickets are $40. Click here to find out more information and to purchase tickets on PVBusinessNetwork.org . “We want our members to network with other businesses to see how they can benefit from each other,’’ Hayes said.
Hayes demonstrated out-of-the-box thinking in recruiting home office workers to join the organization. Most business network groups are built on the backs of business owners whose brick-and-mortar structures are in town. Hayes realized Putnam Valley needed a different model.
“When I ran for Town Clerk last year, I met a lot of people who worked out of their homes,’’ Hayes said. “It’s amazing how many there are. And these are all services that we needed in our everyday lives. I think that businesses are the cornerstone of the community. Knowing how many businesses there are right here, it gave me incentive to start the network.”
The business network is the latest volunteer position for Hayes, who commutes daily to her job in New York City as an executive assistant for a non-profit organization. She is a member of the Putnam Valley Central School District Citizen’s Advisory and Audit Committees, Director of the Putnam County Firearms Owners Association and Director of SCOPE, both gun safety and educational organizations. She is an active member in the Putnam Valley Republican Committee.
Hayes moved from Great Neck, Long Island five years ago, and from the outset jumped into community activities. “We were involved in our community in Great Neck as well,’’ Hayes said. “It’s something that is important to us. I was raised to be involved in the community. My parents were involved, and we were taught that it’s important to do your part and give back. When I look at something, I think I can do that, and maybe I can do it better. I love a challenge.”
Hayes rises each day at 4:30, hits the road at 6:30 in her car pool and returns home in the early evening. When she’s not at a meeting, she works in her garden and greenhouse and home cans. She has a pantry full of stored fruits, vegetables and other items that will carry her family into next spring.
She also started a Facebook group, Off the Menu , in which nearly 1,000 people from all over the word discuss recipes, food, and tricks of the trade. Hayes -- who else? -- lined up the group’s first annual barbecue at Putnam Valley Town Park held last weekend.
Hayes finds her work rewarding, but sometimes exhausting. In the end, she knows it is worthwhile because her work keeps the community connected, no small achievement in a digital age where human interaction can sometimes be non-existent. “I love people, and I love meeting people,’’ she said. "In this age of technology, we tend to not go out and meet people. I enjoy bringing people together. I think that’s where I find my drive. I really enjoy it.”