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Baker bids farewell to REACH

January 11, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

At a farewell party in her honor Thursday afternoon, Terri Baker swatted away concerns that she was forsaking REACH for her new job with Washington County Public Schools.

"I'm not leaving, I'm just going to a new ball field," Baker said, insisting the game still is very much the same.

Baker, 40, has been executive director for more than 10 years at the faith-based agency that she helped build. She said she hopes her new job will allow her to help prevent people from ending up at organizations such as REACH, looking for emergency shelter, food and affordable housing.

"We're seeing too many young people seeking services at REACH," Baker said.

REACH, which stands for Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless, is based at 140 W. Franklin St.

Baker begins work Monday as development coordinator in the four-person Office of System Development at the school system.

Baker's salary will be $60,558, said Donna Newcomer, assistant director of human resources for Washington County Public Schools.

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Dale Bannon, most recently the executive director of the United Way of Washington County, heads the office.

While the search is on for a new executive director, longtime volunteer/staff member Tina Barse will be acting as interim director on a part-time basis.

"I worked with Terri when she was at the Community Action Council," Barse said. "I came to REACH as a volunteer when she came over 10 years ago."

Four years ago, Barse joined the REACH staff.

"Tina can put her own imprint on REACH," Baker said.

Brad Sell, executive director of the Community Foundation of Washington County, said Baker still will be helping the community - now with its youth.

Sell said Baker will be missed at REACH.

"It's a natural progression," said the Rev. Ed Heim of St. John's Lutheran Church - a REACH cold weather shelter host for many years before the agency moved into its permanent location last year.

Heim said every organization needs to go in different directions at some point.

"It's good for the group to move along," he said.

Dave Engle, executive director of the Washington County Department of Social Services, spoke of how often his agency would get calls from people with unique needs.

"REACH could always help them in those areas where there is a gap in government services," Engle said.

Baker said her vision for REACH always has been that through positive relationships with other nonprofits, businesses and organizations, great things can be accomplished.

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