A Celebration of Life
San Diego’s senior community lost a dear friend and beloved presence on September 11, 2017, when Maureen Piowarski died following a brief illness.
Maureen was on the staff of Serving Seniors for 23 years , eventually rising to the position of Chief Operating Officer, which made her second in command to CEO Paul Downey. Her primary role was to oversee the development of a coordinated program of senior services. To this end she functioned as the liaison connecting the work of Serving Seniors to that of its community partners –county government agencies, health care networks and community organizations with a vision similar to that of Serving Seniors.
Maureen was especially devoted to her role in mentoring the social workers on the staff of Serving Seniors. Nothing gave her greater satisfaction than seeing their growth. One of those Maureen mentored was Joe Gavin, currently Senior Care Navigator at Serving Seniors. Joe, who had been a printer in Chicago, came to San Diego looking for a new career in the field of social work. It was through his contact with Maureen that he acquired a position on the staff of Serving Seniors and received the mentoring that brought him to his present position. As a happy bonus, Maureen introduced him to the woman who on October 13, 2017 became his wife.
On September 18, 2017 friends and acquaintances of Maureen gathered at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center for a celebration of her life. Many of those in attendance had been closely associated with Maureen over a period of years. The memories they shared centered on Maureen as a person who had touched their lives in a special way, influenced their subsequent direction and enlarged their sense of purpose. The spirit of their remarks was summarized by Joe Gavin who, reflecting on Maureen’s role in his life as employer, mentor and matchmaker, described her as “that special person” who comes along at a critical point in a person’s life, points it in a new and promising direction and , in doing so, “inspires you to become that special person for someone else.”
Some of those who shared their memories of Maureen knew her only casually through brief and occasional encounters. They, nevertheless, felt their lives impacted by her presence. The characteristic that stands out in the memory of everyone in this group is Maureen’s personal warmth, her habit of making everyone she spoke to, however briefly, feel like an old friend and, in doing so, of lifting that person’s spirits. Joe Gavin, again, best captures the spirit of this groups’ remarks. Joe describes Maureen as “the type of individual” whose very act of encountering you, whether in an extended office conversation or a brief hallway exchange, “left you feeling better”.
The life of Maureen Piowarski was a precious gift, especially to those privileged to have known her, but also to all those in the San Diego Senior Community who have benefited from the many efforts on her behalf. Let us continue to celebrate her life by treasuring it as a gift it is our burden and our privilege to share.