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Q&A with Keene Metzger
September 12, 2014
Q&A with Keene Metzger

You’re retiring at the end of this month! How many years have you been at JF&CS?
Keene's Just NowJust a little over 13 years.

What are some of the reasons you’ve chosen to stay at JF&CS for so long?
My nature is to find a good fit, put down roots, and not move frequently. Very high on the list of things important to me in my work life are the community of people I work with, the mission of the organization, the need to engage my mind, and being part of an organization long enough to experience both successes and failures to see if what you try actually works! JF&CS has provided all of this and more. From early on JF&CS has felt like a family to me - including the staff, the Board, and the Board’s Finance Committee. We’ve established trust, a common bond, friendship, and a history that all help give more meaning to the work we do.

I can’t say enough about the dedication of staff and the volunteers at all levels to the people we serve. It’s been a privilege to me to be a part of making these services possible. My interaction with volunteers has been primarily with the Board and Board Committees. From my first day I have been blown away by the generosity of time, money, and real engagement of the volunteers. In addition, I’ve been involved in nonprofit financial management for almost my entire career, but this is the first time I have worked in an agency with a theological underpinning. That’s important to me, as are the religious rituals that accompany many of our meetings and gatherings.

Finally, JF&CS is truly intellectually engaging. Staff are well-read and informed, thoughtful, and incredibly bright – and fun. And no day is routine. Every day brings a new challenge to address. How else can I say it? I have looked forward to coming to work every day, and I am grateful for all JF&CS has given me and allowed me to do.

What is one of your fondest JF&CS memories?
If I had to choose seminal moments, I think I would choose the fundraising events for our programs that serve people with disabilities. Seeing program participants, their families and friends, and JF&CS staff in the same room is very powerful for me. It is the larger JF&CS family gathered in service; I have always come away from those events feeling blessed to be a part.

Also important to me have been the Lunch and Learns (workshops on a variety of topics) and JF&CS staff Schmear & Schmoozes (meetings where a program shares in detail what they do). At the latter I never fail to have my knowledge of the array of our services extended. And I am always impressed by how often our staff go extra miles to be sure clients have what they need. And, of course, I have enjoyed every year being part of the Purim production and having a chance to explore my inner “other” through the role of Queen Vashti. All of these things and more help JF&CS become a closer community.

In terms of big events, I’ll mention just one. We will celebrate the 10th anniversary of our move JF&CS Headquarters in Waltham in February. In this move we consolidated many programs and people under one roof, though we put the Visiting Nurse Associate at a different location closer to their work. The process of the move was fun but ended up being a real adventure. Staff had to stay home almost an entire extra week while we obtained needed occupancy approvals. Everything went wrong that could have, including a last minute critical repair part that took three days to deliver by truck. Unexpectedly, we could not fly it overnight because it contained a hazardous material. I am immensely proud of the building and how it has been maintained, and especially by the ways we have used it to expand our services. Visitors, by the way, are always astounded that the carpet is actually 10 years old.

What do you listen to when you’re in the car (radio station, book on tape, favorite band)?
I listen to WBUR. I love the variety of stories and feel particularly moved by the Story Corp stories. A listener once said that the station makes the world seem both larger and more intimate; I think that is very apt.

You’ve done some traveling – what is one of your favorites places that you’ve visited?
I have many favorite places. Largely I am a creature of habit and routine. Wherever I am I like to start my day early by grabbing a cup of coffee and a book, finding a beautiful or interesting location, and sitting to sip and read. (I often send Ira, Senior VP of Operations, a picture of these moments – with my feet in front of me and a nice view beyond, labeled “Just now.”) For this time of year, we have a favorite place in the Eastern Townships of Quebec on Lake Massawippi. I also love the courtyard of a small hotel in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; the front porch of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge; the beach in Humarock, MA; and the deck of our cottage on Kennebec Bay in Maine.

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