Ellen Juro is a longtime Shorewalker. Ellen joined Shorewalkers in the early 1980’s, first enjoying the club’s walks, later becoming a walk leader as well as one of the Shorewalkers Directors.
In reminiscing, Ellen recalls when Shorewalkers’ Great Saunter was just starting out, initially with fewer than 100 participants: not all roads were paved, and substantial obstacles prevented walking along portions of Manhattan’s waterfront. Fast forward to 2014 when over 1000 people participated in the Great Saunter. The route is now a showcase for the Manhattan waterfront promenade that has blossomed into a nearly continuous walkway with sweeping views. Ellen doesn’t stop at reminiscing, she continues to lead walks, is active on the Shorewalkers Board of Directors, and enjoys meeting new people on walks. Another very important role, which Ellen shares with other leaders, and which is important to the continued growth of Shorewalkers, is that she is available to help those who are interested in becoming walk leaders themselves.
During the past several years, those who have helped with the Shorewalker newsletter mailing parties know of Ellen’s role as the wonderful host of the mailing parties held in her lovely apartment. Volunteers spend the evening preparing the mailing, as well as chatting with other Shorewalkers and leaders, while feasting on Ellen’s wonderful and tasty dinner. A particularly memorable mailing party occurred when Ellen invited representatives of an Italian “slow living” group to assist the Shorewalkers; the group surprised everyone by singing the most beautiful opera passages; an evening to treasure.
Ellen is also on the Shorewalkers Board of Directors. In this role she is active in administrative aspects of the club. In particular Ellen strives to maintain Shorewalkers as a low-cost affordable walking club, seeking to find ways to keep membership fees to a minimum. Ellen notes that low membership fees help make the club affordable to more people, including students and retirees. Shorewalkers, run by volunteers, helps keep costs down; also, the Directors decisions are key. Ellen notes that walking is an interesting way to help keep healthy at all ages and strives to see that Shorewalkers provides an affordable option.
Ellen enjoys learning about New York City history, ever changing streets, stores and communities and also enjoys designing the urban walks she leads for Shorewalkers. Ellen researches her walks using the web, and library and by exploring area of interest on foot by herself. Ellen’s walks are highly informative and interesting. For example, on one walk Ellen discovered an unusual stone bench in Central Park, surrounded by five maple trees, Ellen followed up: the bench was dedicated in 1929 to Andrew Haswell Green, “Father of New York City”, with the five maple trees representing the 5 boroughs. Her further research indicated that Green played a key role in the creation of Central Park as well as the unification of the five boroughs to create the New York City we know today. Over time Ellen’s walks have evolved and been modified with routes added, featuring additional sites.
One of Ellen’s favorite walks is the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition, Williamsburg, the fast-changing lower east side and Harlem are areas that she enjoys, as well as Central Park. She notes that the lower east side is an especially fascinating area with its new and old areas side by side: synagogues from the time the area was settled by east europeans in the late 1800’s, alongside the latest wave of new condos and fashion shops.