Judy Scher is always amazed when she goes on walks around Staten Island with Ilene Pappert. The pair of friends frequently stroll around Silver Lake or Clove Lakes Park to catch up on their lives and on their work in the community. And when they do, they’re often interrupted by someone who wants to thank Ilene.
Since she started as an intern 45 years ago, Ilene has been an integral part of the Children’s Aid Goodhue Community Center in Staten Island. Now the Center’s Director, Ilene’s dedication to the work is an inspiration to her staff and to the community at large.
Last week, Ilene was honored with a First Generation Award at the Jewish Center of Staten Island’s 12th Annual Nancy Avis L'Dor V'Dor Awards. Judy, a psychologist on Staten Island, introduced her longtime friend at the ceremony. “Many lives have been enhanced and transformed because of the Goodhue Center and Ilene’s special touch,” she said. “I am proud to be Ilene’s friend, and the community has benefited from her service.”
Ilene was born and raised in Hillside, New Jersey. She attended Rutgers University and then the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. It was then that her relationship with the Goodhue Community Center began.
“I have been privileged to have worked for the Children’s Aid Goodhue Center for 44 years,” Ilene said upon receiving the award. “I started when I was in social work school, and I knew then that I wanted to work with children and families in a community setting. And that’s what I got.”
Ilene’s first job at Goodhue was as a counselor at the summer day camp in 1976. She moved to Staten Island in 1980 and raised her family there, eventually becoming the Center’s Director in 1989. In that capacity, she oversees the many recreational, educational, and afterschool programs that Goodhue offers to youth in the community. She also now runs the summer camp where she landed that first job.
During her speech, Ilene took time to recognize the role that our agency has had in supporting her career.
“I got to work with an agency whose mission is to help children and families succeed and thrive,” she said. “It’s not that hard to do good and worthwhile work in a community when you’ve had the backing of an agency that guided and encouraged me to find ways to make a difference in children’s lives; to help children learn about themselves and their community; and have dreams and skills to become successful adults.”
As she continues her work in Staten Island, Ilene is motivated by the connections that she’s made to the many thousands of children and families who have come through Goodhue’s doors during her years there.
“It does give me great satisfaction to think about all the children and families and staff I’ve gotten to work with,” she said, “and I do hope I have made a difference for them.”
As Judy can attest from the many people who interrupt their walks, Ilene Pappert has absolutely made a difference for them – and for her community.