Charlene Best: Serving Her Community
Whether it’s teaching middle schoolers science or being president of the Clinton Lions Club, Charlene Best is committed to serving the Clinton community.
Five years ago, Charlene was looking for a change.
“I’ve been a member of the Democratic Town Committee, the Conservation Commission, and the Human Services Board. I’ve had a bunch of roles in town, but I wanted to do something that was community service-based and also nonpolitical this time,” Charlene says.
In that search, Charlene found the Lions Club and quickly found what she was looking for. In describing what the club does, Charlene says, “We are there to serve. We have areas we target, like hunger, vision, hearing, as well as diabetes which is linked to vision. We also do environmental and humanitarian aid.”
Charlene says that locally, the Clinton Lions is very involved in town affairs. “We do a lot of community service. We check the hearing of every kid in Clinton from pre-K to fifth grade. We also did projects like building a kayak rack, supporting Eagle Scout projects. Many years ago, we built the pavilion at the town beach, and we do scholarships,” Charlene says.
“The benefit of the Lions being an international organization is very helpful with giving us a lot of recognition, but locally, we do a lot of things here in town,” Charlene explains.
The club can be found at most Clinton events, such as the Memorial Day Parade or Christmas in Clinton.
“We really try and support the community any way we can,” Charlene says.
One upcoming event Charlene and the Lions are happy to present is the free Easter egg hunt for kids 10 and younger, held on April 1 at the First Church of Christ in Clinton.
“It’s free and open to everyone. Kids bring their own baskets and have a lot of fun,” says Charlene.
Lining up events is just one of Charlene’s roles with the Lions. Currently, Charlene serves as the club president.
“I basically set up our agenda, and I line up our guest speakers. I maintain our membership and steer the club budget and projects,” she says.
Charlene says the group is looking for new members, and interested parties should contact them.
“We’re a fun group, and everyone involved is community-minded. Our mission is to serve. That’s our motto: We serve,” Charlene says.
Of course, the Lions Club isn’t the only way Charlene serves Clinton. Many people may know Charlene as a science teacher, a position she’s held at Jared Eliot School for 24 years.
“I love my job,” Charlene proclaims when asked about her job. “I just love teaching about the natural world, it’s so interesting.”
Before becoming a teacher, Charlene worked as an insurance underwriter in New York City, where she was often tasked with training colleagues. “I wanted a new job that would allow me to be around my kids, so I changed careers. Best decision I ever made,” says Charlene.
It isn’t just her own kids that Charlene enjoys being around.
“I love being around the young people. They’re so interested in learning about their world. They may not always show it or show it in ways we want them to, but they’re interested,” Charlene says.
“It can be hard sometimes when kids have a big interest in a lot of different things, and you need them to narrow it down to one thing and come up with interesting lessons, so the kids stay focused,” Charlene says.
Between the Lions Club, teaching, and her past roles with various commissions and committees in town, Charlene has stayed busy in Clinton. Volunteering is something that Charlene says runs in her family. “I’ve always been interested in that. My family has been very involved in town when I was younger,” Charlene recalls.
“My mom was on the inaugural Youth and Family Services Board [the former name of the Human Services Advisory Board], so I thought it was pretty cool that I got to be chairperson of that board decades after she had founded it,” Charlene says.
She also proudly notes she had an aunt and grandmother who served the town when she was growing up.
Charlene grew up in Clinton and, after about a decade of living elsewhere, moved back to town.
“I’m a townie,” Charlene jokes. In addition to teaching, Charlene works part-time at the Lindt Chocolate store in the Clinton Crossing outlets. In her spare time, Charlene can be found doing Pilates, walking at Hammonasset, or reading.
“The people of Clinton are the best part. They have very generous hearts,” says Charlene.
“I also love that the Indian River is in the center of town. It takes my breath away every time I drive by and look out over the Sound, and I say, ‘How lucky am I to live in this beautiful little town with generous people,’” Charlene says.