SANFORD — The York County Community Action Corp. celebrated its first official day of partnership with York County Community College Wednesday by dedicating a gallery space at its Sanford offices to longtime employee Connie Garber.
Garber was surprised to see members of the staff, the board of directors of both organizations, faculty and students at the offices on Spruce Street.
“I had no idea this was going to happen,” she said. “I thought we were going to be honoring the artists, so I was here to be part of that effort. I didn’t expect anything more than that.”
Barbara Crider, executive director of YCCAC, addressed nearly 30 people who gathered to honor Garber and celebrate the first day of the partnership.
“I want to highlight the unique and close relationship between these two organizations,” she said.
“Our work here at the organization is to help everybody in York County take advantage of opportunities so that they can live a prosperous, healthy, full and rich life. One of the best ways we can do that is by helping people go to school.”
Crider said Garber has been one of the key employees in the organization who helped it survive during difficult times and found a way to be hopeful about the future when others could not.
“In that sense, she is like the art in this space,” Crider said. “She is fun, enduring – she makes us think, challenges us, and yet is always hopeful.”
Garber has worked for YCCAC for 35 years. Most recently, she served as director of transportation for the organization.
According to Garber, the agency runs public transportation services for people in York County who, for a variety of reasons, find themselves in need of a ride.
“The transportation may take people to work, or take seniors to medical appointments or shopping.” She said the agency also uses volunteer drivers to bring “pre-school kids who are in danger from abuse or neglect to school.”
“We provide hundreds of thousands of trips per year to people who don’t have their own car and would otherwise be unable to get there,” she said.
As the people who came to the ceremony drifted away from her and gathered for refreshments, Garber stood alone at the end of a hallway filled with art. Her name was now prominently placed on a glass plaque at the beginning of the gallery space.
Garber is retiring at the end of May, and plans to travel to Europe during the summer. But after spending 35 years at YCCAC, she acknowledges that it will be hard to stay away.
Pointing in the general direction of the gallery, she said, “I think this means I have to come visit after I retire. At least, I’ll have to see what’s going on.”
She laughed. “I can only draw a stick figure, but I do love art.”
This article originally appeared in the Biddeford Journal Tribune.