As most of you know, I am retiring from HEARTH on October 2. This has been part of HEARTH’s Strategic plan for over 2 years, so the Board of Directors created a thoughtful process that has involved many people. The agency is in a position of strength and ready for its next CEO.
I started with HEARTH in 1996 (I know many of you can do the math) when I was 21 years old (okay please don’t do the real math!!) Many things drew me to HEARTH– the focus on self-sufficiency, supporting women, helping children succeed by providing stability and safety, the committed Board of Directors, and the passion of the volunteers.
The concept of giving people “a hand up, not a hand out”, also aligned with my beliefs. Providing services that meets basic needs plus some – food, shelter, clothing, computer access, recreation areas, school supplies, life skills meetings – so that the “Moms” could focus on school and employment created a path for success.
During my tenure with HEARTH, we have overcome many challenges and created additional aspects to enhance the program. We started with the Benedictine Sisters in their former high school serving 15 families and currently serve 31. In partnership with Trek Development Group, we built the first affordable housing program in Northern Allegheny County. We now own our own facility on a 5 acre campus in Northern Allegheny County that has enhanced security to keep families safe who are leaving Domestic Violence situations.
I want to thank everyone who has supported me and HEARTH during the past 24 years. Your support has allowed HEARTH to expand and serve the community in many ways. My fondest memories include:
- First Christmas at HEARTH, the community was so generous that I was overwhelmed
- Children running in from school and right into my office to show me their grades and crafts
- Meeting Kathy Stewart and asking her to go to lunch and be my friend
- Sharing graduation with our “Moms”
- Hearing why our “Moms” decided to come to HEARTH – to make a better life for their children
- The first Wine & food event at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild where my family and friends served as most of the volunteers and we met the Dunmyer family from Myrna’s Catering (who participated for over 15 years.)
- Pictures from the best Photographer ever, Dan Reardon
- Bill Gatti and John Ginocchi – working with us on two different projects, always with optimism, humor, and support
- Arlene Grubbs calling me during the Capital Campaign and asking how my day went, based on the number of glasses of wine we should share
- Completing our $1.8 million dollar campaign in 18 months as opposed to the 3-5 years that is typical
- Founding of the Young Professionals Board and committee meetings on my front porch
- Barb Smith and Jeff Wilhelm standing beside me every week, sometimes every day and every hour, as we made our decision to give up government funding – the best bravest boldest Board ever
- Employees – HEARTH has the best group ever!
The passion I feel has not diminished, but I am ready to move on to a new phase. The extra time in my life will allow me to have more time with my family, have lunch with my Mom, travel more, exercise more, spend more time with the kids in my life, volunteer, work on my garden, go swimming, take more yoga classes – take more of everything classes, and sleep in!
There are still challenges that HEARTH will continue to address on behalf of our clients especially in the areas of childcare and permanent affordable housing. For those of you who have asked, if you want to donated in my honor, please send it to the Eakin honorary fund. The money will be used to address these two issues.
HEARTH has great staff members and board of directors in place. Everyone has been working hard to create an environment of success for the next CEO. Won’t it be exciting to see where they will take us!? HEARTH will always be in my heart; this won’t be the last you see of me. 😊