As one of the unsung heroes of Queens, Mandy Kelso has never said “no” to someone in need.
She has put her myriad skills and talents toward so many humanitarian causes that one might wonder if there is anything she hasn’t done to better people’s lives.
For years, Kelso invested her time, heart and soul as a volunteer, living a giving way of life.
In Kew Gardens and Ridgewood, she brought about positive change through her work in local communities.
She even spent a year teaching English in Guangzhou, China and later traveled to earthquake-ravaged Haiti twice. She also spent time helping out in Honduran orphanages and volunteered in some destitute communities in Peru.
Giving should be her middle name.
“It’s been my pleasure to work and meet with all the dedicated people of Queens, and whenever you volunteer you find out that there’s a lot more people out there making a difference…. whether the cause is human trafficking or just planting more flowers on the street.
“The great part of volunteering is that you can be completely creative and be you, and still feel like you’re making an impact.”
As bank manager at TD Bank in Ridgewood and previously at the Kew Gardens branch, Kelso has always connected with many different people and has successfully created strong community ties.
Due to her great work, she was just asked to open up a new TD Bank on 37th Street and Broadway in Manhattan
But Kelso’s talents go beyond managing banks. She has a strong creative streak, and her passions range from painting and fashion design to writing poetry. Her Ceeflat Gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is located near her home. It’s a community artspace and working studio.
Kelso serves as board member of the Ridgewood YMCA. For three years in a row, she facilitated Kids Art in the Park in Kew Gardens and is a former board member of REZ Reading Series, which spotlighted local writers in that community.
Never one to let grass grow under her feet, she has also used her design and verbal skills to benefit non-profit organizations, producing costuming and crafts for community events, movies and dance troupes, and teaching English as a second language to immigrants.
In addition, she has been the Asian Affairs director of the United Nations Association Young Professionals Group since February 2011 and has continued to serve on various United Nations Association committees, including the Partnership for the Eradication of Human Trafficking, since 2009.
This experience must have given her the strength to help so many.
Kelso received her degree in literature and studio art from Rice University. Along with UNA, she also serves on the board of managers for the International YMCA and the board of the Friends of Maple Grove nonprofit.
She had a challenging childhood growing up in Texas but overcame adversity and became a truly empowered individual.