"I am proud to be part of this community; everyone who I have asked to support Longview Farm has done so with enthusiasm."
Charity began at home for Virginia Griffin. Her father, who had 16 children, always made time to volunteer and invite a few extra children to spend the weekends or have dinner with them. Ten years ago, Virginia continued her own charitable work by becoming a mentor at Longview Farm, a residential program for emotionally disturbed boys ages 10 to 17 years old.
The mother of two and owner of Watson’s Candies in Walpole initially began supporting the boys by bringing them candy at Halloween. But the celebration quickly grew to include sweet rewards for all holidays, birthdays, special accomplishments and other events. She even opened up her business to the boys and provided them with the opportunity to work in her store. "Everyone has to start somewhere," she said. "Many of my family members have worked in the store and the boys are no different."
Prior to her involvement with Longview Farm, Virginia worked for Raytheon in Norwood and ran an in-house travel department that took her all over the world. But after deciding to start a family with her husband, Michael, she returned to her hometown of Walpole and began a second career running Watson’s Candies.
"Over the past 16 years my involvement with the community has been rewarding to me personally. Giving back to charitable organizations through the chocolate store keeps me involved enough so I feel that I have contributed as best I could," she said.
Over the past five years, Virginia has been going above and beyond personal involvement by recruiting other Walpole businesses to donate money to purchase gifts for the boys. "I am proud to be part of this community; everyone who I have asked for support has done so with enthusiasm," she said. "I have seen first hand the remarkable impact our support has on the boys. They are learning life skills and becoming more confident."
Virginia’s belief and practice of giving back to the community has not gone unnoticed. In Fall 2006, she was named The Friends of Christopher Columbus’ Person of the Year and The Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers (MCHSP) Volunteer of the Year. The love and support she provides for the Longview Farm program makes her a role model to all, especially the boys.