YMCA Salutes Jack & Nancy Flannery at Annual Dinner

September 28, 2016

New Castle, PA – “We need more Jack & Nancy Flannerys. That’s what this community needs. Given that, we could go a long way.”

YMCA Board Member Dale Perelman’s sentiments perfectly summed up the feelings of everyone in attendance at Monday night’s Salute to Jack & Nancy Flannery dinner at The Villa. The event, in the tradition of the New Castle Community YMCA’s annual Salute to Courage dinners, honored the late pillars of the community. The Flannerys dedicated their lives to lifting up New Castle.

Jack Flannery’s twin brother, Dick, said the two learned about community service from their parents, both of whom devoted their lives to serving the community and especially the YMCA.

“We grew up with it at the dinner table,” said Dick Flannery. “We would hear from our parents about what they were doing in the community. It became ingrained that this is what we do.”

As an adult, Jack Flannery served on the YMCA Board of Directors for more than 30 years, including several years as President of the Board. Board members past and present recall a colleague who cared deeply about the Y.

“He was the perfect volunteer,” said Board member Amy Fehrs. “He had no agenda. His agenda was for the greater good and to make sure the Y mission was always upheld.”

“When Jack & Nancy spoke, people listened because of the affection for them and the respect for their opinions,” said Dr. Dennis Nebel, a former Board member. “Jack didn’t often speak but when he did, it was important and we listened.”

Nancy Flannery devoted many years to the YMCA’s Diamond Girls mentor program. She was a part of it from inception and spent time mentoring both the teenage girls as well as their adult mentors.

“She was able to look at the girls and accept them as they were,” said Octavia Payne, a fellow Diamond Girls mentor. “She brought serenity, peace and love for all people to us.”

“She was like a best friend, because I would talk to her about everything. She would always listen,” said Allyson Hood, a former mentee of Nancy’s. Hood appeared in several productions at the New Castle Playhouse. “After every musical, Nancy would be there. She came to every single night. She was my biggest fan.”

It was the Flannerys’ lasting legacy to the community that led the YMCA to honor them with a special Salute. At the close of the evening, Y Board President Randy Silverman announced that the Y has rechristened its annual award as “The Jack & Nancy Flannery Salute to Courage.” In the future, the Y will consider not just nominees who have faced adversity, but also those with the confidence to act on their convictions in order to improve the community.

Friends & colleagues say the Flannerys left a lasting mark on New Castle.

“They’re fundamental building blocks of the community,” said Dr. Nebel. “No question, we are weaker without Jack & Nancy Flannery. The hope and prayer going forward is that others will step up and attempt to fill their shoes.”

Rev. Richard Kinney, pastor of Highland Presbyterian Church where the Flannerys were long time members, summed up:

“If everyone would have that hope in New Castle and love and commitment to New Castle as Jack & Nancy Flannery, this would not be a struggling town. This would be a destination.”