Scottsdale Salutes city volunteer Elena Samfilippo

Elena Samfilippo (submitted photo)

Elena Samfilippo (submitted photo)

For long-time Scottsdale resident Elena Samfilippo, volunteering is more than just a way to spend her time. Some residents enjoy volunteering as a way to pass the time or to keep busy, but for Ms. Samfilippo, there is a stronger desire.

“For whatever reason, I don’t know, I wanted to work in an office,” said Ms. Samfilippo, 61, during a Dec. 18 phone interview. “But I didn’t want to do that all the time. This satisfies that urge.”

What started out as a way to satisfy the desire to be in an office environment has turned into more than 10 years as a part of the Scottsdale Downtown Ambassadors.

“Over 10 years ago, they ran an ad in the newspaper: ‘Interested in volunteering? Check this out,’” said Ms. Samfilippo. “I always had this pipe-dream of being a tour guide, so I thought this would be up my ally.”

Ms. Samfilippo started out working with one-cart that supplied brochures and information about Scottsdale on Brown Avenue. Shortly after, the Downtown Ambassadors offices moved and she was asked if she could come help in the office.

“I thought ‘OK, I could do that,’ and apparently I was very helpful to her,” said Ms. Samfilippo. “She was like, ‘can you come back every Tuesday?’”

Ms. Samfilippo retired from her job as a math teacher at Scottsdale Unified School District’s Saguaro High School after 30 years and began volunteering with the ambassadors more.

Being a teacher was the career-path Ms. Samfilippo always wanted to follow but said the want to be in an office with other adults was in the back of her mind.

The offices moved one last time and Ms. Samfilippo has been working underneath Scottsdale Program Coordinator Joy Racine ever since.

“She inherited me and it’s been a good fit for both of us,” said Ms. Samfilippo.

She now helps Ms. Racine keep track and update databases, do mail-outs, and other office duties for the programs Ms. Racine is in charge of –– including Downtown Ambassadors, Neighborhood Watch and Neighborhood College.

Ms. Samfilippo says volunteering with the city is a good way to experience new settings without committing too much.

“I’ve always liked downtown, but I never wanted to be down there all the time,” she said. “I think it’s the hustle and bustle –– not wanting that all of the time but just wanting a taste.”

In addition to volunteering, Ms. Samfilippo sings in the Scottsdale Community College community choir. The group rehearses every Monday night and puts on two concerts a year.

To volunteer with the city of Scottsdale visit

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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