Tony Poekert is stepping down after nearly 32 years of service to Catholic Charities New Hampshire and the people of the North Country.
“Tony leaves behind a legacy of good will and caring. The communities he has served are better because of him,” says Thomas E. Blonski, President and CEO of Catholic Charities New Hampshire. “Tony’s presence helped Catholic Charities New Hampshire give hope and help to scores of people in need in the North Country.”
Poekert, once in training to be a Franciscan monk, arrived from Kansas City, Mo., in 1984 to be the director of the Littleton District Office for Catholic Charities New Hampshire. Tony said he knew he found a home for him and his family as he drove through the White Mountains on his way to his first interview for the position.
He took the job and eventually settled in Dalton, a town of approximately 1,000 people located hard by the Connecticut River. He and wife Rose stayed there and raised their two children, Sarah (29) and Amanda (25), who were adopted through Catholic Charities.
Poekert was able to grow and launch a series of program for Catholic Charities to help individuals, families and communities in the North Country, including Hand-in-Hand (connecting youth volunteers with elderly, low-income and disabled homeowners in need of home maintenance), elderly outreach and the first Hispanic ministry program in the state. But he said his real achievement was bringing together volunteers to help these programs.
“No one ever said no to me and that blows me away,” Poekert says. “The focus of our programs has shifted over the years, but the response of the people in the North Country to helping their neighbors has always remained extraordinary.”
Poekert became Director of Parish & Community Services two years ago when Dick Shannon stepped down. He was contemplating retiring, but agreed to stay on while several new initiatives, including Life Plans, were put in place. He requested to stay at the Littleton District Office rather than commute to the Catholic Charities office in Manchester.
“It was exciting,” Poekert said of his time as director. “It was incredible seeing the amazing things our team does.”
While a change in positions was not enough to make Poekert leave the North Country, his devotion to family will. Tony and Rose will soon be leaving the area to be closer to their daughter Amanda in Charleston, S.C.