Posted by Jon Federman
“Nobody ever leaves JF&CS,” says Marsha Frankel, who until her official retirement on March 3, was the Clinical Director of JF&CS Services for Older Adults and the Director of Mental Health Services. “I’ll always be part of the JF&CS family.”
Marsha knew for more than a year that she would retire around her 70th birthday. When she saw that her 70th fell on a Friday this year, she knew that the date was right and that it would be her last day -- of full-time employment at JF&CS. But in keeping with the adage that “nobody ever leaves JF&CS,” Marsha is still putting in a substantial amount of time to help others in her new role as an hourly JF&CS employee.
“I’m still working with Services for Older Adults doing training and consultation work around mental health and older adults, particularly in addressing bullying among older adults – that’s been my thing for the past few years,” she explains. “My friends call me the “Bullying Queen;” it’s my claim to fame.”
Marsha had been managing gero-psychiatric programs for Horizons Mental Health at Norwood Hospital some 18 years ago when a position opened up at JF&CS for Director of Geriatric Mental Health. The position, according to Marsha, “changed dramatically over the years” and included a wider range of responsibilities than she ever would have imagined. After a few years she became the overall Director of Mental Health Services. Marsha was also instrumental in starting up Charlotte & Richard Okonow Parkinson’s Family Support and helping launch Your Elder Experts, our geriatric care management program. Marsha also oversaw Schechter Holocaust Services for the last several years.
“I’m blessed to have had exposure to a wide range of JF&CS programs. Being the director of Mental Health Services, I often did trainings for the agency as a whole, when needed, and I’d be called upon for consultations in other programs,” Marsha remarks. “That’s been one of the best things for me; having the opportunity to really get to know the work my colleagues did in other areas of the agency was pretty special. And it was special to be involved in the start-up of so many wonderful services and programs.”
Asked what she is most proud of at JF&CS, Marsha responds, “Probably helping JF&CS build its reputation as the ‘go to’ organization for working with older adults with mental health challenges. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud of personally and I consider the bullying related to the mental health work. Bringing attention to bullying as not just an issue for children, but the serious impact it has on older adults and their mental well-being. I like to think we played a role in getting the spotlight shined on the issue.”
Kathy Burnes, Division Director of JF&CS Services for Older Adults, worked (and still works) closely with Marsha. For her, Marsha’s retirement has been bittersweet. “I’m happy she’s still working with us. We’ve had a transition plan for more than a year and it’s nice to see it unfolding in a way that keeps us connected and allows JF&CS to be the continued beneficiary of her talents,” says Kathy.
Despite what it sounds like, Marsha’s hours have decreased at JF&CS. “I look at JF&CS emails every day but right now I’m reading a novel,” she adds. “I’m not sure how much I’ll be doing after June.”
Marsha is looking forward to having more time off and traveling including visiting her brother in New Jersey and son in California. “Retirement is good. I’m just getting used to a different routine and trying to balance things,” she remarks.
For Marsha, retirement certainly doesn’t mean an end to her work with older adults, mental health, or JF&CS. She notes, “I’m still figuring out how I can use my interests and skills to make a difference in the world.”
Jon Federman is the JF&CS Staff Writer. A practicing attorney for more than 15 years, he is thrilled to bring his legal and persuasive writing skills to the JF&CS Marketing Communications department. Jon has a BA from Tufts University and a JD from Boston College Law School. In his spare time he is an exhibiting photographer and an award-winning cartoonist. Jon lived in London, England for five years before returning to Boston in 2011.