Community Action marks a ‘New Day’ and honors staff for milestone anniversaries with agency

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 30 June 2021 at 10:30 am

ALBION – The past year was a very difficult one for Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, dealing with a pandemic, the passing of the former executive director and a good deal of turnover in key positions, new executive director Renee Hungerford told a packed room during an in-service event June 18 at Maison Albion for agency staff.

“We have themed the event, ‘A New Day,’” Hungerford said. “After all this, we are ready for a new beginning. It’s a new day.”

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Renee Hungerford, director of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee, confers with Sean Ossont, president of Continual Care Solutions, whose new program ImPowr was presented at Community Action’s in-service event June 18 at Maison Albion.

The program focused on how Community Action is one agency that works together with partners to help people become self sufficient and rise up out of poverty.

A highlight of the day was a presentation by personnel of Continual Care Solutions, who have developed a program called ImPowr to simplify correlating data from each department.

Continual Care Solutions CEO Mike Kamish started his company three years ago. He designed ImPowr to cover all programs and services Community Action offers.

“It has the ability to do everything your agency has to do, all in one data base,” he said.

The morning began with opening remarks from Hungerford, and Community Action’s board chair Barb Shine and ROMA training by Jackie Orr, New York State Community Action Association CEO. ROMA, Results Oriented Management and Accountability is required by the state for all Community Actions.

Skip Helfrich, head of Leadership Orleans, led several team building activities.

After lunch catered by Chaps’ Elba Diner, a tribute to former director Ed Fancher, who died May 20, 2020.

Orr, Bonnie Malakie, director of Children’s and Youth Services, and Annette Finch, director of Emergency Services, presented a tribute to former director Ed Fancher was presented by

Orr, who read a poem she had written, while Finch and Malakie shared their memories of working for Fancher, who passed away from cancer on May 24, 2020.

Annette Finch, a 44-year employee of Community Action, is silhouetted against the screen showing the late director Ed Fancher with Assemblyman Stephen Hawley. Tears were shed as Finch paid tribute to Fancher, who passed away from cancer on May 24, 2020. Fancher was the agency’s executive director and worked for Community Action for 32 years.

“I talk from my heart,” Finch said. “I had started at Community Action in 1977 and in 1986 I got a call from Ed’s mother-in-law asked me if I could get Ed a job. She said he was just married and having a baby. I went to Mr. Pulley (director at the time) and told him Ed had been in the Marines and had done accounting. I asked what we could do about this young guy who wanted to work for us. Mr. Pulley asked me, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘I think we should give him a chance. Ed went on to become our executive director. We don’t want to go back in time, but we don’t want to forget the man Ed was.”

“I sit in my office and I see his chair. I talk to him, asking him to give guidance to us, to Renee and to the staff – to keep this agency’s mission. God love Mr. Pulley for bringing that wonderful man into our agency,” Finch added.

Malakie offered her remembrances.

“I know the reason you are all here is because your heart is in the right place. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year. I know what Ed would say. ‘Don’t talk about me for very long, if you have to talk about me at all.’ He was such a big part of our lives and Community Action. He truly loved Community Action, Head Start, the Main Street Store, all of which were under his leadership. He was a true servant leader. Nothing he expected you to do, he wouldn’t do himself.”

Malakie called Fancher consistent, humble, collaborative, committed, caring and giving.

“He did not like to be in the limelight,” she said. “He was highly respected in the community. He had been treasurer of every organization in the county, a Boy Scout leader, a member of the Albion Alumni Association, an active member of his church and its choir and member of many professional organizations.”

To be sure Fancher’s legacy is carried on, $5,000 in donations has been made to the Albion Alumni Association in his name. Steps are being taken to make sure the new Ed Fancher Memorial Scholarship Fund becomes endowed. A $2,500 per year scholarship will exemplify his life of service as director of Community Action of Orleans and Genesee. It will be awarded after a student completes one year of college, having maintained a 3.0 GPA.

“As you go forward in 2021-22, don’t think about the past,” Malakie concluded. “It is what it is. It’s a ‘New Day.’”

The day concluded with recognition of employees for their years of service. Recipients who would have been honored in 2020 for 2019 were Lisa Church and Edna Schramm, 20 years; Cheryl Bartz and Judy Martino, 15 years; Joe Wright, 10 years; and Brenda Cook, Rachael Escobar, Teri Lester and Barb Miller, five years.

Those recognized from 2020 were Heidi Wyant, 30 years; Cathy Brien, 25 years;  Lisa Church. Edma Schramm, Bonnie Malakie and David Laraby, 20 years; Ken Pritt, 15 years; Carrie Moreland and Taryn Moyle, 10 years; and Julie Bailey, Virgie Brooks, Michelle Figueroa, Erin Mattison, Jessa Pollock and Tami Slingerland, five years.