We invite the community to celebrate with us the over 30 years of social service and community engagement of Jo-Anne Rafalik. Today she retires from serving Schenectady Community Ministries as summer meal and volunteer lead staff, acting executive director, and more recently as chief operating officer.
“Jo-Anne led SiCM through a season unparalleled in the organization’s and city’s history. The pandemic response, and SUF becoming a SiCM program, has led us to expand our community-based and engaged commitments. (She) encouraged us all through a very difficult time. In doing so, she served to usher a new moment for SiCM in its presence and service with and for Schenectady.” – Executive Director Amaury Tañón-Santos shared on a note to the SiCM board.
“Reflecting on these last five years with SiCM, plus the years at the YW, I have been so blessed to have served in this community. Working in this community has been an education in life. In an ideal world, SiCM’s mission would be a way of life. Everyone would live life sharing resources to meet the needs of others in our community.” – Jo-Anne Rafalik
Please, join us in celebrating Jo-Anne’s contribution to Schenectady and her committed service to Schenectady Community Ministries!
In Her Own Words
February 1st will be the beginning of new stage of life – Retirement – what does it mean? This retirement from SiCM is my 2nd career retirement. Before coming to SiCM in March 2018, I had a 30-year career with the YWCA NorthEastern NY. When I interviewed with Rev Phil, the position was for a part time job handling Summer Meals and the volunteers.
Little did I know at that time, that he would retire the following January and I would take over until March 2021. During that time, offices were moved from Mt. Olivet Missionary Baptist Church on Wendell Ave. to the SiCM campus on Albany Street, SiCM’s assembly voted to become interfaith, and the Capital Campaign, to construct a new Community Hub and much needed upgrades to our buildings, was launched. A few surprises, two major accidents to our buildings and the pandemic struck. Thanks to the great support and many prayers from the SiCM staff, board, and community, we not only survived but continued to serve the community throughout the pandemic. The new Community Hub was built and needed upgrades were done, the pantry began the home delivery program, Schenectady Urban Farms became a SiCM program and new executive director was hired.
Reflecting on these last five years with SiCM, plus the years at the YW, I have been so blessed to have served in this community. My husband and I were both born here in Schenectady, been employed here, and have raised our family here. Working in this community has been an education in life. In an ideal world, SiCM’s mission would be a way of life. Everyone would live life sharing resources to meet the needs of others in our community.
These last few days will be spent cleaning out my office and files while reflecting on my work here at SiCM. I leave SiCM having learned more from the guests and staff I’ve served than they from me. And hope and pray that those serving this community will continue to serve with the dignity and understanding each deserve. There is something to learn from everyone, remember to stop and listen.
My plans in the next few months – spending time with our new granddaughter, Violet, some travel and enjoying this summer at Mariaville Lake. Thank you to the staff, board, guests, congregations, and community for the last five years here at SiCM.
Just a farewell – Celebrating over 30 years of community engagement
The last lines of an important chapter in the history of Schenectady Community Ministries are being figuratively written today. Jo-Anne Rafalik, who served us as a member of the steering committee, lead staff for the summer meals program, associate executive director, acting executive director, and chief operating officer, is retiring today.
I do not do well with goodbyes, especially to a person who generously welcomed me to this organization and this town the way Jo-Anne did. Jo-Anne has been a staple of Schenectady social service and community engagement her whole life, leading in that work at the YWCA – NorthEasternNY and for almost 5 years at Schenectady Community Ministries. Her volunteering and board leadership experience is extensive and impressive.
Jo-Anne led SiCM through a season unparalleled in the organization’s and city’s history. Under Jo-Anne’s leadership, the staff kept our pantry operations open as an essential resource and response to the crisis. It was also under her leadership that SiCM welcomed the Schenectady Urban Farms as a program. The pandemic response, and SUF becoming a SiCM program, has led us to expand our community-based and engaged commitments. She oversaw the construction of the expansion of 837 Albany St, which has provided SiCM and the greater Hamilton Hill community with a space that encourages hospitality, wellness, and community learning and engagement. In short, Jo-Anne encouraged us all through a very difficult time. In doing so, she served to usher a new moment for SiCM in its presence and service with and for Schenectady.
The honor to share with Jo-Anne in the leadership of Schenectady Community Ministries provided for me with an incomparable opportunity to know SiCM and the city. When earlier in my tenure I said that falling in love with Schenectady was easy, perhaps even irresistible, it was in a significant part because of how Jo-Anne introduced me to Schenectady, its history, and its people. I will be forever grateful for Jo-Anne’s wisdom, collegiality, leadership, and friendship.
Join me in sharing hurrahs and good wishes to Jo-Anne. I am quite certain this is not a goodbye, but a see you around!
With profound gratitude, and prayers for all manner of goodness in the time ahead!