March is Women’s History Month, and today’s guest blog is from Lisa Habasinski, FCA’s Manager of Community Engagement and a member of FCA’s internal Social Justice Workgroup.
This Women’s History Month, I’m reflecting on the contributions of Margaret Pantzer, the first employee of Family & Children’s Agency (formerly Family Service Bureau of Norwalk).
The history of FCA has been of interest to me for quite some time. I have a long history with FCA, having begun as a volunteer in the early 80’s and shortly thereafter becoming a staff member. My interest in Margaret came from an article I recently discovered in The Sentinel dated April 18, 1945.
Margaret was a native of Wisconsin who lived in Wilton after finishing her degree at Smith College and the New York School of Social Work at Columbia University. Not only was Margaret the Executive Secretary (CEO), but she also held the roles of receptionist and social worker. She ran the operation of this human service agency alone for almost two years until she received approval from the Board to hire a part-time secretary to take on administrative duties.
Even after all this time, the needs of the community mentioned in the article from 1945 are familiar – they are the same struggles we currently face today. Margaret spoke to the newspaper about a child who came to talk to her because he felt his parents weren’t listening to him, an issue addressed in our current ASPIRE after-school program. She referenced a couple having marital issues, and a lonely elderly man wanting to talk with someone. Every day, our Behavioral Health and Family Support programs work with couples, and our Home Care program provides support for seniors so they can remain connected while at home.
“The war hasn’t brought any new social problems; it has only accentuated the old ones. People are coming to us for advice on matters that have been emphasized by war, but fundamentally most of their problems are as old as the human race,” said Margaret Pantzer in that article.
Margaret was a woman ahead of her time. She was a compassionate, well-educated, and strong woman and FCA is her lasting accomplishment. Happy Women’s History Month!