JoAnn Brundin is having a hard time leaving her job of nearly two decades.
Brundin retired April 30 after 19 years as executive director of St. Joseph Social Care and Thrift, 620 Eighth Ave. South, but has been working on a part-time basis since then.
The East Grand Forks native said she’s working until a replacement can be found. The organization also is looking for a case manager.
Brundin has been with the organization since nearly the beginning.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Brundin said. “This has been a wonderful career. I just felt like this was my calling.”
St. Joseph Social Care and Thrift, a charity that provides assistance to individuals and families in need, was founded after the flood of 1997 by the Catholic churches in the area. The organization helps with eviction notices, shut off notices and referrals to other social services. It also offers thrift stores and food pantry services.
“There’s nothing else I'd want to have been doing at that point in my life,” Brundin said.
In her time with St. Joseph Social Care and Thrift, Brundin said she helped start multiple new programs, including the empty bowl project and the summer lunch program, of which she is most proud.
“The reason we started (the summer lunch program) was we have a food pantry and we noticed the numbers were getting bigger during the summer,” Brundin said. “Feeding the kids in the park is awesome. And they’re so appreciative.”
Brundin said she also worked on adding transitional and permanent supportive housing units.
One of the most rewarding parts of Brundin’s job was interacting with the clients and seeing them grow, she said.
“Sometimes, we don’t even help them financially, but just making the right referrals for them helps,” Brundin said. “When someone comes back to us and tells me ‘because of you I was able to go and do this,’ or when I see those that live in our transitional housing get back on their feet, it is just the best feeling in the world.”
Brundin said she’ll miss her staff and volunteers, too.
“A lot of my staff has been here for more than a decade, and some have been here since before I got here. We had lots of good laughs and some tears, too,” Brundin said. “The best thing I ever did was to wrap myself around all these good people that helped support me and St. Joseph’s.”