People’s Place celebrates annual holiday choral breakfast, new executive director

MILFORD — The People’s Place Annual Choral Breakfast “really represents the culture here in Milford,” Janet Berry said while attending the event for the first time Dec. 3.

The occasion marked another first for Ms. Berry: The first event she has attended as the new executive director of People’s Place.

“It’s my first trip out of the office since we moved here about three weeks ago,” she said. “This is a well-known breakfast. I think it brings tradition home.”

Ms. Berry has worked in the nonprofit sector for the majority of her career including organizations such as the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay and Blindsight Delaware.

She comes to People’s Place after long-time employee Del Failing announced his retirement in July to take effect Dec. 31 of this year.

Mr. Failing’s career at People’s Place began in 1990 as a program director for a homeless shelter with 11 years of social services work under his belt. His role shifted in 1997 when he became the associate director of the organization, followed by his selection as the executive director Oct. 30, 2010.

“Del has done an excellent job managing the business of People’s Place as Executive Director for the past six years”, Harvey Marvel, president of the People’s Place Board of Directors, said previously.

“He has led the organization to significant levels of growth, while maintaining a balanced budget through tough economic times.  He is a passionate ambassador for the mission of People’s Place and we appreciate his service as Executive Director and also his 26-year career with People’s Place.  Del will be missed but his successor will have a strong foundation to work with because of his career with the agency.”

Ms. Berry said with so many services offered by People’s Place, she is excited to take on the new role.

“We cover the whole state, although the majority of offerings are here in this community. We have a lot of services and I would like to expand our brand because I think a lot of people don’t know what we do,” she said, quoting services relating to mental health, domestic violence and homelessness to name just a few.

“I love Delaware. Delawareans are good people. I’m excited to give back to the state that’s given back to my family so much. It’s a good feeling,” she added.

“My husband and I grew up in poverty for so long, we were glad to move to Delaware for a change.”

Ms. Berry and her husband, John, previously lived in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah due to military assignments.

“This breakfast is great,” she said with her husband seated next to her. “It’s nice hearing the great music and meeting more great people.”

According to the organization’s Communications and Donor Relations Manager Kim Rigby, typical attendance for the event is around 250-300 people each year.

“Our goal this year is $10,000. The money raised will be used to support our 11 programs,” she said. “People’s Place serves the community in a variety of ways:  our Counseling Centers, SAFE and Abriendo Puertas domestic violence programs, Veterans Outreach program, Girls Group Home, Turning Point Program, Residential Alternative to Detention, Independent Living, Family Visitation Centers, Whatcoat Social Services and our Center for Community Justice Program.”

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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