EATON — After 23 years with Community Action Partnership, Rita Daily is retiring as Preble County Director effective Oct. 1.
Daily has worked in most of the county’s programs in various capacities. She started as a Family Literacy Specialist working with parents on financial and literacy skills. Later she worked with the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program and worked in transportation, EHEAP, Shelter and CSBG programs. This experience prepared her to become Preble County Director in 2003.
“One of my favorite projects has been the Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner,” Daily said. “It all started with a local business man who ended up being alone on Thanksgiving one year. He decided that others should not have to be alone and began a meal that is served on Thanksgiving Day at Bruner Arena every year. It brings in over 75 volunteers to help cook, deliver and serve meals for the Preble County residents who have nowhere to go and nobody to talk to on Thanksgiving Day. To see so many come together on a day to be together and make the Thanksgiving meal a great time for everyone involved.”
The Thanksgiving dinner has touched the lives of many who receive dinner and those who help prepare and serve the dinner.
“One year we had a gentleman traveling through to his brother’s house in Massachusetts as he had just lost his house, his job and his wife had recently passed away,” Daily recalls. “Everything he had was in the van that broke down in front of what was then Dale Carter Ford. A church group brought him to the dinner and then traveled on to their destination. As community members engaged him in conversation-which took him awhile to talk about- they learned about his hard times and several people who were there volunteering also gave to this gentleman as well.
“They paid to shelter him at a local motel, a mechanic repaired his van at no costs, two individuals paid for the parts that were needed and we packed him a meal for the night and gave him some cash to see him through to Massachusetts. He borrowed a phone and called his brother to let him know he was delayed but would be on the road soon.
“To see a community of volunteers work together to get him back on the road was truly amazing.
“All the programs we provide are special,” Daily says. “To see the children that were in Head Start growing in an education environment was a blessing. They are so innocent of the things that go on around them. They remember so much. I was in Walmart with my brother-in-law who drove a bus for Head Start once to hear one of the children run up to him and say ‘Mr. Richard look, I have boots just like yours!’ Richard laughed so hard that day but to look back on it now, we all touch so many lives in our work at Community Action Partnership that some days we need to look at it through the eyes of a child-just happy that someone spoke to us kindly and gave us a hand up without judging us.”
Along with staff, Daily has worked with many dedicated community. partners over the years to help people and change lives in Preble County.
“I have been truly blessed that everyone I have worked with over the years has worked for the betterment of our communities,” Daily says. “It takes everyone to be a part of the solution and to make our communities better.
“I have worked with several directors from United Way; Mental Health and Recovery Board; Preble County Council on Aging; and others and it has been great working with them all. There are some new directors now at many of the agencies in Preble County with new and amazing ideas. I am looking forward to seeing how things will keep going forward in serving the community.”
After a total of 36 years in community services, Daily is looking forward to more time with her family. However, she won’t be far away to help those in need.
“It has been a great learning experience and I have gained many friends. There is always work to be done. Someone needs help even if it is the smile you give them to brighten their day.
“It has been a pleasure working at Community Action Partnership and I have enjoyed my tenure immensely. I may be retiring but there is still work to be done.”