Monday, October 1, 2012

SKID ROW'S JOAN SOTIROS RETIRES FROM SOCIETY


Joan Sotiros, Director of the Cardinal Manning Center for the homeless was honored at the center on Skid Row in Los Angeles, September 26, 2012, for her 18 years at the center and retirement from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Council of Los Angeles.

"Joan, your presence will be greatly missed," said Society President Claire Padama, who presented Joan with an award in recognition of her service. 

The Society's Director of Social Services Gigi Srajer presented Joan with a book of photos and quotes from the staff. "Thank you," said Sotiros, "I will read it later and cry." 

Sotiros said, "I keep getting told by the guys outside 'You are the best place on Skid Row.'  That they get respect here, not yelling at them.  So never lose that...They are not the least of my brethren. They are people."

Society Executive Director David Fields reminiced about bringing St. Francis high school students to the center: "Joan talked to them. Made them more appreciative of what they had. And they went back to St. Francis and collected 5,000 pairs of socks!"

Many center volunteers were present to honor Joan, including Brian Whalen and his four children, who volunteer weekly. "Joan is an icon here on Skid Row, " said Whalen. "Joan is the most tireless worker on behalf of St. Vincent de Paul and the most thoughtless of herself." 

Gigi mentioned that Joan had trained close to 50 social workers from UCLA over the years, and touched the lives of tens of thousands of people on Skid Row for the good.

Joan thanked the 30 attendees of the gathering by concluding, "Thank you for being there when I needed it, and the people on the street needed it."

Photos: (top) Sotiros receives her award; (right) Sotiros unwraps her book as Deputy Executive Director David Garcia, Director of Operations Jim Bibb, and Executive Director David Fields watch; (left) Brian Whalen and his children.

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