The Westport Fishermen’s Association cap Jennifer Gelinas sported at the organization’s recent clambake is but one of the many hats she wears. Appointed to the position of Project Coordinator of the WFA in June, she’s hardly had a chance to break in the hat. Her other roles include designer, church and school volunteer, entrepreneur and mom. Ms. Gelinas’s first glimpse of Westport happened around 1990 when she visited her future husband at SMU while she was attending Mass College of Art in Boston. After marrying in 1993, the couple followed their instincts and found employment in rural Pennsylvania, where they established their artistic reputations. Ms. Gelinas struck out on her own in 1994 and opened her home-based Gelinas Design Studio, specializing in art work for wall coverings. The lure of a northerly rural environment closer to their families and a job opportunity brought them to Westport in 1997. Mr. Gelinas serves on the WFA Board of Directors. The Gelinas two daughters, Lily, 10, and Janey, 8, attend St. Stanislaus School in Fall River. Ms. Gelinas and her family live at 703 Drift Road.
“I was an assistant design director for a design studio in Pennsylvania. I created hand painted artwork that was sold to wall covering and textile industries.”
“I’m a painter as well as a computer designer so I can appreciate the techniques in which art is produced. For me the importance of starting my own studio was my desire to produce artwork that would merge both of those skills.”
Husband Stephan’s work?
“Stephan works at Murdock Webbing in Central Falls, RI, one of oldest mills in the country. He designs the decorative embellishment for woven textiles that might appear on everything from sandals to ski goggles.”
First sight of Westport?
“I remember the first time I drove down Route 88 to visit Stephan at SMU and took a left on Hix Bridge Road. I came down the hill, saw the rolling hills beyond the river and thought, ‘This is a beautiful place, wouldn’t it be great to live here some day.’”
Home in the country?
“We bought a late 1800s farmhouse that we’ve had to restore. It’s a work in progress and it always will be. It took us three years but we finally have a lawn. And our girls can run around as much as they please in the woods of our three-acre lot.”
Role in daughter’s school?
“Once they found out about my background in design, I became the set designer for the school’s annual theater productions. I’m now a volunteer art teacher on the faculty. I’m also on the parent’s group that puts on fundraisers and sponsors events like Math Night and Family Craft Night. ”
Benefits of involvement in school?
“Volunteering gave me insight into the quality of education and the environment in which they’re receiving it. I like the atmosphere and the way they try to connect with families from Taunton, Westport, and towns in Rhode Island who bring their kids there. ”
Textiles to fish?
“I came to the conclusion that the combined pressures of designing and full-time parenting were too great. The job of Project Coordinator for the Westport Fishermen’s Association appealed to me because it’s a part time position and allows me quality time with my family. ”
Duties of Project Coordinator?
“I may not have had experience with every requirement of the job but I knew that I could learn what I had to learn about fund raising, advocacy and PR and do the job well. I whole-heartedly believe in the mission of a healthy river. A bonus is that there are possibilities with the newsletter, mailers, and invitations to be artistically creative because visuals are important to people.”
“Stephan is teaching our girls how to fish, boat safety, and how to drive the boat. We enjoy camping and use the stamp passbook issued by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Our girls get a huge kick out of getting stamps to put in the passbook. We’ve camped in Vermont, New York, and and Canada.”
“I’m the kind of person who’s more content doing something than relaxing. I volunteer at St. John’s Church and am on The Women’s Guild there, volunteer at my kids’ school, and of course the WFA. I can get excited about reeling in a big fish but I most enjoy spending time with friends and family.”
Latest artistic venture?
“I design, box, and sell my own line of computer-designed stationery. I have a rep and I head for Manhattan twice a year for trade shows. I promote my stationery line at craft fairs locally. I have control over the whole process from creation to distribution. This fits my need to stay involved in the art world on my own terms and have time for family and responsibilities closer to home.”