Retirement reflections on a lifetime of service

Topton, Pennsylvania    Monday, December 21, 2020

Mark Pile, Diakon president/CEO of Diakon, wrote the following reflection on the cusp of his Dec. 31, 2020, retirement ...  

Those of you who’ve known me a long time know my life has been driven by a sense of mission and a desire to serve in a way that makes the world a better place.

In fact, you’ve probably heard me tell stories, either in person or in past columns, of my childhood and family and the great influencers on my life.

When I came to what would become Diakon back in the late 1990s, I knew immediately that …

  • The mission and work resonated deeply with me,
  • Staff and board members were following the same path,
  • There was abundant opportunity to create shared vision and purposes.

In short, I had found my professional home.

As I near retirement, I can honestly write that my time with all of you—my staff colleagues, our boards, our clients and residents, donors and volunteers—has been a meaningful, productive and rewarding journey. It has been my honor to take that journey with you, to serve alongside you.

Susan and Mark Pile at the dedication of the Helen N. Palmer Center for Permanency during Diakon’s 150th anniversary celebration.

As I write this, the first COVID-19 vaccination clinics are scheduled for our senior living communities. At these clinics, our residents and the staff members who serve them—staff who have been on the front lines of this pandemic—will receive what could be life-giving inoculations.

This news offers great joy this holiday season. Perhaps, before long, our world will return to some semblance of normality.

No matter how soon that occurs, we can never sufficiently thank Diakon’s staff members for the dedication, commitment and courage they have shown this year in addressing this unprecedented challenge. You are a blessing to so many people!

Because this is my last message before retirement, I want to say a few words about what I will remember most about you.

My work has always been to unleash that Spirit within our ministry ... 

I will think, with fond affection, how tirelessly you have worked to improve the lives of those we serve, most assuredly during this pandemic but also in a more sustained manner over the years.

I will remember your commitment to those we serve.

I will remember your dedication to this vital ministry.

I will remember your friendship, which has so enriched my life.

I hope that of me you will remember the focus I have placed on what is so beautifully explained in Galatians 5:22. That verse tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

My work has always been to unleash that Spirit within our ministry. Clearly, it abounds within everyone at Diakon or who works with us or supports us.

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