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On Island Profile: Elizabeth Goggins

Jan. 21, 2008 — Elizabeth "Liz" Goggins doesn't simply talk the talk when it comes to community service. She goes all out and is 35 pounds lighter to prove it.
"I did it as a fundraiser for the Rotary," Goggins, a seven-year member and current president of Rotary of St. Croix.
Her weight loss is a win-win situation for both her and Rotary.
Goggins will soon fit in a new blouse hanging in her closet. And with some members pledging as much as $100 per pound, the club stands to easily raise $5,000 by the time she reaches the fundraising goal of 50 pounds.
The money will be used to buy test strips for glucose testing for people with diabetes.
Goggins, herself a diabetic, began her quest in June, and says that as a result she is taking a slow approach to weight loss. She began by changing her diet totally and later incorporated exercise.
In addition to Rotary, Goggins has held or holds membership or leadership positions in several organizations: she is past president of the League of Women Voters; a lifetime member of St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA); public information officer for St. Croix Rescue; and a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace.
Goggins turns 51 on Feb. 8. When asked about other affiliations, she says with a chuckle, "I just joined the AARP, and I'm laughing because I just got a membership card from American Legion Auxiliary that says I've been a member for 51 years — and I'm not yet 51."
Her father, a military man, signed her up when she was just six months old, she says.
Those who know Goggins best say she has long embodied the Rotary motto, "Service above Self."
"She is probably the most dedicated community service person I know," says Dynel Soto, a fellow Rotarian and owner of Quality Medical Supply. "Liz spends most of her free time doing some kind of community service work. I've never encountered anybody more dedicated to community service than she is."
Julie Wright, an environmentalist who works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, has known Goggins for 12 years.
"As long as I've known her she's been really active in the community and really dedicated to preserving the environment," she says. "She works so hard in whatever she does. It's amazing how she finds the energy."
Goggins is well-known for taking part in protest marches and defending the environment. A political science major in college, she has championed women's voting rights issues as a student and as an elected official in her native New Jersey. For the last 26 years she has lived in the Virgin Islands since moving here to take a job as a fourth-grade teacher at All Saints School on St. Thomas.
"I was only going to stay for nine months," she says, adding that she left a two-year teaching stint with fourth-graders in New Jersey to come here.
Since that time she's worked at a local bank, gaining nine years of accounting experience that led to a job with St. Thomas-based ATN. In 1993 — after 12 years on St. Thomas – she transferred to St. Croix to work with the newly formed Innovative Communications as its environmental health and safety coordinator.
The job, which she still holds today, often means partnering with outside agencies such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources in the company's best interest.
So what's a typical day in her life like?
"I have a fulltime job, so 8 to 5 that's priority number one. Rotary meets at lunch. A lot of things get done on Saturdays and Sundays. Fortunately, my girls don't speak so I don't get to hear the complaints," she says.
Her girls — three Crucian canines — are Fred, a stray she named for Frederiksted where she was found, and fellow strays and sisters Rory and Roxie.
Goggins doesn't appear to show signs of fatigue despite her full-time job and sundry positions with community service organizations.
It's all in her genes, she says.
"My parents were always involved in community service organizations," Goggins says. "My grandmother — I'm very much like her — was always doing something. The week before she died, she was out in Colorado volunteering. It's a family thing, I guess."
Her grandmother died nearly 30 years ago, but Goggins says she's never forgotten the ideals that were ingrained as a child.
"One of the reasons I sought out the Rotary is, aside from doing worthwhile things, you've got this camaraderie here," she says. "Rotary is an incredible worldwide organization and there's so much going on, and it makes you feel so good that people alongside you are trying to get things done."
"The purpose of rotary is service," she says. "It's such a great concept and we've learned that the more you do the more you learn. The more you learn the more you have to do."
Her job with St. Croix Rescue began because "of the dog connection." She sought out the organization after it established a canine unit.
"I volunteered to do public information and I have the greatest respect for everybody in St. Croix Rescue," she says "I personally cannot do blood and guts, but I've gone through the training and I understand what these volunteers do and it's amazing — for me to be the PIO is nothing compared to what these men and women do all the time."

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