Griffis,who has amassed a lengthy community service pedigree,won the a Jefferson Award that recognized his volunteerism on a local level.
Griffis,a 66-year-old attorney in San Angelo,received an all-expense paid trip to Washington and a chance to meet 65 other community volunteers from across the country,while being honored for his dedication and service to his community.
“You are inspired by their stories and their examples,” Griffis said.
Meeting them has influenced him to develop new ideas for helping San Angelo.
The Local Jefferson Award is given annually to civilians who actively engage in their communities. They receive a trip to Washington to meet community volunteers,listen to their stories during a dinner and have the opportunity to meet with their senators.
The local winners also attended black-tie dinner where prominent public figures received the National Jefferson Award.
Griffis' community involvement includes serving on the board of directors for Boys Scouts of the Concho Valley Council,Scout master for Troop 1 and serving on the board of the Alcohol and Drug Council.
He is active in his Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. He has been president of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce,president of the local chapter of the Red Cross and co-director for raising money for the YMCA.
Griffis said being able to meet other community volunteers has allowed him to develop projects for Boy Scouts working to become Eagle Scouts,the highest rank in the organization.
His wife,Prissy Griffis,who served on a local school board,was also inspired with new ideas.
Griffis said his wife has a great interest in education and intends to speak with the superintendent of a local school district about ideas she learned from the Jefferson Award trip.
“These are the kinds of people you can draw inspiration from,and you get printed summaries of each person's various activities,” he said. “Some of those can apply to my hometown. They can be carried back and examined.”
Aside from meeting other community volunteers,Griffis has toured numerous national sites,including the Library of Congress.
Griffis said after he was asked to volunteer for the YMCA board,he decided to make volunteering a part of his life.
He said volunteering is important because a society needs citizens to care of immediate tasks.
“The more you get involved in things,the more you see the need to get involved,” Griffis said.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis,Sen. Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard,who is the program's director,began the awards in 1972 out of a concern that America's tradition of civic engagement was dissipating.
Several well-known public figures were also honored at the dinner for their achievements. Sen. Ted Kennedy,D-Mass.,and Greg Mortenson,author of the book “Three Cups of Tea” about how he founded schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan,were among the public figures honored at the Jefferson Award's Gala Dinner.