GREENVILLE — “It’s time for retirement. Forty years is a long time in a social service agency. It’s time to step aside.”
Those were the words of Janey Christman in response to being asked why she has opted to retire at the end of the year.
Christman, director of Community Action Partnership (CAP), is spending her last days trying to finalize what she can before leaving her position on Dec. 31.
She began volunteering at Community Action when it was located on Water Street behind the Episcopal Church at Broadway and Water.
“It’s torn down now,” she said. “Hazel Howard was director. Then, I was hired in September 1978 as a social worker for the Older Americans Act senior programs.”
Subsequently, she became the 3-B director, overseeing the transportation, medical transportation, homemaker and repairs services for seniors.
Her next job at the agency was director of the meals program.
“I worked with Sarah Clark in Versailles to start a nutrition site at the Fleur-de-Lis, and worked with Clara Clark at Treaty Manor for the senior citizen programs in the community,” she said. “That was when they started having Senior Day, which is celebrated every May. It began at the Youth Building at the Darke County Fairgrounds. The senior citizens, with them, in Darke County came into their own at that time.”
She went on, “The meals program was flourishing, transportation was still within 100 miles of Greenville and our home repairman Ray Sloan did minor repairs of houses, like changing screens, light bulbs, shoveling snow, raking leaves and fixing toilets.”
According to Christman, CAP just got the home repair service back in Darke County in January through the weatherization program. It’s run by Craig Idle, she said.
The agency has been to quite a few sites in Greenville since its inception. From the Water Street location, it moved to Fair Street then to Washington School on Wagner Road, on Sweitzer near the then-Franz Fruit Market, followed by North School and to its present location, on June 1, 1988.
Christman said it was she who got the Greenville Transit System started.
“When I started, I would go to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT),” she said. “A lot of times I was the only woman there.
She then was named director of the Darke County agency.
“I worked my way up,” she said. ” I worked in all departments of the agency.”
She said other CAP people she has worked with for a long time are Stephen Pipenger, CFO and vice president, and Greenville High School graduate, who has worked for CAP for 40 years; CAP President/CEO Tim Donnellan for 36 or 37 years; and Joyce Price, vice president for 30-plus years.
Her mentor, she said, was Sandy McGuire, who was director of Preble County.
“She retired several years ago, and we worked closely together,” Christman said. “Tim [Donnellan] was my encourager, my supporter. If I asked him about anything, he told me to operate my ballpark and keep him informed. He and I had a very good working relationship. I could always count on his support. If it was for the best for Darke County, he said yes.”
She said Community Action also provided Moving Ohio Forward with demolitions and renovations as well as Neighborhood Stabilization II, also with renovations and demolition; having done 21 homes on the first program and 12 demolitions and two renovations on the second. That was available for two years.
“We had the meals program until four years ago,” Christman said. “It ended Dec. 1, 2o10. They started prior to me even being here.”
She also reported that CAP was responsible for building 60 units of multi-family housing, called Willow Place Family Apartments and Fox Run Senior Housing.
“We fought to get senior housing,” Christman said. “I oversaw it and worked with the contractors. If it were not for Norma Jenkins and Kathleen Floyd, we wouldn’t have gotten Fox Run built. I was head-strong when I was younger. I’ve learned so much about federal, state and local laws, about the program, and the changes over the years.”
As for the transportation the agency provided, she commented, “In the 1980s, I wrote a proposal with the blessing of city council for the start of Greenville Transit System. We operated it for years before deciding it was time for someone else to take the reins.”
Christman also noted that Community Action at one time operated a migrant ministry in Union City.
“None of this could be done without the staff I have,” Christman said. “My longevity staff has supported everything CAP has done in the county. The staff members are cross-trained. The respect of co-workers here makes everyone want to work together with no dissension. There has been some tension at times, but the job gets done and everybody is on board to do that.”
That could possibly also be attributed to their leader.
“Mom always told us if you can’t say anything good about anybody, don’t say anything at all,” she recalled. “She said if you don’t walk in their shoes, you don’t know what they’re going through.”
Christman has definitely seen a lot of changes over the years.
“We switched to computer with ODOT for the transit system,” she said. “There was three days training and they said it was ours. Everything was trial and error.”
Christman also attributes her success in her career to the support of her family, including husband John and son John David.
“There are a lot of hours out here,” she said as she sat at her desk. “This is not a 40-hour-a-week job. It’s what you make it and how you want programs to operate and succeed.”
Christman was born Janey Hatfield on Dec. 18, 1947, in Union City, Indiana, daughter of Maxine and Jim Hatfield, both of whom are deceased.
“Mom passed away when I was 12,” she said. ” I stayed with my foster parents, Glen and Gladys Kindel until I married. They are deceased.”
Christman had two sisters, Sue Ellen Reed of Parker City, Indiana, and Connie, who is deceased; and a brother, Mike, who lives in Bradenton, Florida.
She graduated from Mississinawa Valley High School in 1966, and got married out of high school. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on July 2, next year.
Christman said she worked for The Athletic until it went out on strike; thus, she began her volunteer work with Community Action.
She is a member of the First United Methodist Church and Fort Black Order of Eastern Star, and travels with husband John on his Masonic trips.
“It takes family support to do this,” said Christman, who also has a daughter-in-law, Lisa, and grandson Michael.
On Dec. 6, she will celebrate a year of remission from ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with it in mid-April 2014.
She knew something was wrong when she lost weight and experienced what she called excruciating back pain.
“Then, my body shut down,” she said. “My doctor sent me to Ohio State, and the doctor there took care of it immediately.”
Christman claims she got through the chemotherapy without any issues.
“I can honestly say I never got sick,” she said. “I lost all my hair. I’m not blonde anymore, and it came in curly.”
She returned to work at CAP in January this year.
“I’m feeling good now,” she said. “I have not missed work except for doctor’s appointments or vacations.”
Her staff is hosting a retirement party for her from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Masonic Temple on Memorial Drive in Greenville. It is open to all who want to stop by and wish her well.
Linda Moody may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.