New Adventures Await Retiring Director

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Suffield Community Aid without Janet Frechette at the helm? It’s hard to imagine, but that time has come.

Photo by Renee Wood
Janet Frechette, Executive Director of Suffield Community Aid, is pictured with her staff at the big sign in front of their South Street headquarters. From the left: Jo Dzioba, Janet Frechette, Beth Sheridan and Pat Beeman.

For twenty-two years, Executive Director Frechette has been guiding Suffield Community Aid (SCA) with true dedication. When she was hired (a move for which the SCA Board of Directors have been patting themselves on the back ever since), Suffield Emergency Aid Association (EAA) was separating from the Visiting Nurse Association, and EAA needed the right person to take them into the future. Enter Janet Frechette, MSW. With a family that included a husband and four young daughters, she still had the energy and enthusiasm to not only run the on-going programs, but to develop so many others that would prove to be incredibly beneficial to the Town.

“Janet has led SCA through many changes over the years. There is much you can say but I can sum it up with the words energy, compassion and integrity. She works diligently for the people and the town of Suffield to help those who need assistance in times of crisis.”

– Alan Fahrenholz

In 2019, EAA changed its name to Suffield Community Aid. Although its mission hadn’t changed, the renaming was done to clarify that the non-profit was available to meet not only the emergency needs of townspeople but to provide numerous other services as well. Janet, always on the lookout for new ways to reach out to town residents, developed Bereavement Support, in which SCA partners with Masonicare. The program offers two eight-session support groups per year to persons who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The group meets at the SCA building and is offered at no cost. Also, SCA facilitates a monthly Parkinson’s Peer Support group for sharing ideas and resources in the management & treatment of the disorder.

“I have admired and held Janet in high regard since I was thirteen, and our paths crossed. She leads through example and genuinely cares for people. Janet, thank you for your kindness and compassion, you have made Suffield a better place.”

–Krystal Holmes

Townspeople might think of Janet as the face of SCA, and they’d be pretty close to the mark. Suffield on the Green? Yes, always there with a smile on her face for old and new friends. Need to borrow a wheelchair? Check. Dropping off donations for the food pantry? Yup, there she is. But she isn’t handling these tasks alone. SCA functions as well as it does thanks to the hard-working team in the office.

The staff of four includes Elder Outreach Coordinator Pat Beeman who also serves as Suffield’s Municipal Agent for the Elderly, Social Service Coordinator Beth Sheridan and Administrative Assistant Jo Dzioba. Through teamwork they meet the goal of being your local safety net.

“During our many years as Meals-on-Wheels volunteers, we have had the pleasure of touching base with Janet Frechette each week at SCA when we pick up our clients’ meals. She has always been incredibly warm and helpful, eager to help us with any concerns that we might have about our clients’ safety or welfare.”

– Kerry and Bob White

Janet would be the first to admit that it takes a village, and in the that regard, Suffield has clearly come through and delivered. An army of loyal volunteers devote countless hours filling a need that the staff would never be able to meet without them: delivering Meals on Wheels, maintaining the Food Pantry, Friendly Visitor and Friendly Shopper, the vegetable garden, to name just a few. Town residents support SCA and its clients through contributions to the holiday baskets, back-to-school backpacks, food items, gift cards, not to mention donations to the annual appeal. When Janet asked for help, people knew it was for a good reason.

The past two years of the COVID pandemic brought many challenges to SCA, which never closed the office in the early days or after. Janet and staff put their heads together and found ways to serve the needs of Suffield residents. Instead of clients accessing the food pantry, bags were packed for them and put outside the door. A mini pantry was set up on the porch. Volunteers made masks which were then offered to townspeople. Phone calls were made and Zoom meetings became the new norm. When the vaccine became available, Janet and staff spent long days talking clients through how to access the VAMS procedure of signing up for their COVID shots – an exhaustive process. Janet’s creativity was a marvel!

Janet is the kind of leader who sees value in whatever someone has to offer, whether that is a carload of food or a bag of cookies or a smile.”

-Marla Adelsberger

Since retiring, Janet has handed over the reins to new Suffield Community Aid Executive Director, Danielle Annibalini, LCSW. Danielle will guide all aspects of the organization with a focus on mission and goal achievement. Like Janet before her, she has hit the ground running, full of enthusiasm for a position that requires a lot and gives back satisfaction in return. Danielle and her staff are well-prepared to continue meeting the needs of Suffield townspeople.

“Thank you, Janet, for all you have unselfishly given to the Suffield Community including writing a column for the Observer for over 20 years and allowing your daughter, Alyssa, to help us by being our graphic designer. You will be missed!”

– Ann Kannen

What does the future hold for Janet Frechette? The SCA board, volunteers and townspeople wish her a very happy retirement, filled with hugs from grandchildren and camping trips with her husband. You’ve earned it all, Janet. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Suffield, and best wishes to a very special person who has touched more lives than she will ever know. Now, on to new adventures!

Photo by Renee Wood
Janet Frechette wasn’t quite ready to leave her position at Suffield Community Aid, so her staff gave her a little boost. Kickers are, from the left, Beth Sheridan, Pat Beeman and Jo Dzioba.

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