Meet Tiffany Escott - next Woman of the Week, celebrating Women’s HerStory Month throughout March
In honor of the women who are driving change, blazing trails and nurturing society, the Berkeley Heights Diversity Council is excited to celebrate Women’s HerStory Month by bringing back our inspiring “Woman of the Week (WOW)” series this March.
The BHDC is celebrating women in the Berkeley Heights community who are often unsung yet are inspiring, motivating and hard-working. WOW will honor the women right here in Berkeley Heights who are impacting the world in their own way.
We are excited to feature Tiffany Escott as our next WOW.
Tiffany inspires us with her passion for helping others. For over a decade, Tiffany has been quietly nurturing the Berkeley Heights YMCA community and community special events impacting our community in such a significant way, whether you knew it or not. We are grateful for Tiffany’s hard work, her passion for helping others, and we know you will enjoy learning more about HerStory.
How long have you lived or worked in Berkeley Heights?
I met my husband in college. 26 years ago when we got married, we moved to his hometown of New Providence. We knew we wanted to stay in the area and when I was pregnant with our first child, we found our house in Berkeley Heights - 20 years ago! We looked for, and found in Berkeley Heights, a community with a good school system and close to family. I’m originally from a town west of Philadelphia, PA and have enjoyed living, working and raising my family in Berkeley Heights all these years.
What inspires you?
Volunteering and being involved - I love the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Since moving to Berkeley Heights, I have been involved as a girl scout leader, member and past president of the Berkeley Heights Rotary Club, volunteer at church, Relay for Life Committee member and participant, class mom at Woodruff, making meals for local families during difficult times, working at the Y and more. All of these opportunities allowed me to work with others and give back. I wish I was able to clone myself, so I could do more.
If you were to describe yourself in one word, what would it be and why?
It’s not easy talking about myself, and I’m struggling with this one. I always focus on others and never take the time to really focus on myself. I have to say, however, that my new year’s resolution for 2021 was to focus on myself both physically and mentally. I’m doing ok so far.
If I have to pick a word or two to describe myself, I guess I would have to say thankful and dedicated. When I take on a volunteer position, I give it my all. I am truly blessed with all that has been given to me. I have a wonderful family, friends, good health, job, etc. All the material things do not matter at the end of the day. I am so thankful for life and being able to make a difference. I always say that God put me on this earth to make a difference in other people’s lives.
We can’t imagine you have lots of downtime, but we have to ask, what are you binge-watching these days?
I do not watch a lot of TV. I like to be outside working in the yard, taking walks, camping and spending time with family and friends. During Covid, we did find some time to work on jigsaw puzzles. This past winter, I did enjoy watching the Queen’s Gambit. I am always looking for recommendations.
What do you do for a living? Why did you go into your profession?
I work at the Berkeley Heights YMCA. I started as the Youth and Camp Director in 2002. In 2009, I became the Executive Director. I was interested in the YMCA because of all it had to offer for the community as a non-profit organization.
When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I worked at an Assisted Living facility in Florham Park as their Recreation Director. I loved my job but while on maternity leave, I realized that I did not want to work far from home. I saw that the Berkeley Heights YMCA was looking for a Youth and Camp Director. I went in for an interview and was offered the position the next day. In 2009, our Executive Director at the time retired, and I was promoted as the Interim Director while still overseeing the Youth Programs and Summer Camp. After 6 months, I decided to apply for the position and was offered the permanent position as the Executive Director. I have been at the Y for 20 years and have had so many amazing experiences. One of my favorite memories is our Special Needs Prom. We worked with St. Bart’s Church and the YMCA in Scotch Plains in organizing this amazing event. The look on these student faces when they walked down the red carpet with their buddy with everyone cheering them on is priceless. Not only is it an amazing night for the students but also for the volunteers. They danced the night away, and it was truly a night to remember.
What are key skills that you need to do what you do?
Working at the Y I have learned so much, and I am still learning. I oversee the daily operations of the Berkeley Heights YMCA. Currently, we have around 100 part-time and a few full-time employees. These employees work in our fitness center, maintenance, member service dept. child care, camp, youth programs and aquatics. We have some of the best employees around. The YMCA is a non-profit organization that helps many individuals and families in our community. Through our annual campaign, we raise money each year to help support these families as well as our mission based programs. I am also very involved in the budget process, strategic plan, volunteers and more.
Who is one woman everyone should know about? What do you want them to know?
My Mom is someone who has shaped me into the woman I am today. She has been such an important person in my life and such a great role model. Growing up, she always encouraged us to be involved and to help others. I did a lot of my volunteering through church and then through school. She is always doing for others. She continues to give back and shows no signs of slowing down.
If you could go back to your high-school or college-age self, what’s one piece of advice you’d give?
High School can be such a stressful time. When I was in High School, I was very involved in sports and other extracurricular activities. I was friends with everyone. Life is too short to miss out on all the little things. Enjoy creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. I’d also say to get involved in something you are passionate about. Make sure you find time to explore the world and make sure you also give back.
Who is your female role model & why?
I have a friend right now who is fighting for her life. I have known her for almost 10 years. She has been battling cancer for the past 5 years. During this battle, she has helped so many others while trying to deal with her own pain. She always put others first and enjoys every moment to its fullest. She is the strongest woman I know and has touched so many lives.
How can you set an example for young women?
Stand up for what you believe, even if it takes you outside your comfort zone. 10 years ago, I attended a training on “Child Sexual Abuse” for work. The training was so impactful that I knew I needed to educate others. This was not an easy topic to talk about, and I was not comfortable speaking in front of groups of people. Becoming an educator and trainer on this topic allowed me to train youth and adults about the signs of child sexual abuse and what to do if someone told you that they were or are being abused. I hope that sharing this information with others, it will protect children and will empower them to say no.
Who inspires you? Motivates you? Leads you? Has impacted your life in a special way? The Berkeley Heights Diversity Council seeks YOUR input as we select local phenomenal women to feature in our WOW series this March. Please nominate one of the local women who inspires you by emailing the BHDC at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Berkeley Heights Diversity Council was founded over six years ago to honor and embrace the diverse cultures and perspectives within Berkeley Heights. Our goal is to spread awareness and foster inclusion. The BHDC is open and welcoming to all who reside in Berkeley Heights wishing to celebrate the diversity of our great town together and can be found at www.BHDiversity.org or reached at email@example.com
Originally published in TAPinto Berkeley Heights on March 11, 2021